“How are you doing?”

I used to answer this question with a single number, on a scale of zero-to-ten. “Eh, work has been pretty great, and Jackson’s super-wonderful, though he’s not been sleeping well the last few nights, so I’m extremely tired. Maybe an 8?”

But now — now I don’t think the zero-to-ten scale works. There are times I feel like a negative number, or maybe an imaginary one. A single number doesn’t seem enough to capture the multiple threads of feeling that I have now.

If the zero-to-ten scale is a single note, my day-to-day feelings now are like a chord progression. I have individual notes (career, friendships) that are still perfectly great in their eights and nines; I now also have deeper, lower notes that are always playing, though they vary in intensity and duration.

Sometimes it adds up to a major chord, with low bass notes that remind me of the happy times that I had with Jackson.

Sometimes it’s a low minor chord, with few-if-any high notes.

More often than not, it’s somewhere in-between: some complex chord that would’ve stressed me out to try and play it back when I played piano regularly. It’s composed of a major chord in the right hand, and maybe some dissonant, quieter, slow-moving bass line with the left.


The answer I give to “How are you?” is going to vary depending on the questioner, too. Cab drivers, baristas, and other casual interactions with strangers are probably just going to get the “right-hand” answer. No need to bring in the low notes there; just keep moving.

If you’re ever worried about asking us how we’re doing — maybe you’re afraid to bring it up, or bring us down, because it seems like we’re doing OK and that might bring us down — please, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re always thinking of him; the left hand continues its chord progression, the song is always playing, and we’d love to share it with you.