A long, long time ago … I believe it was in March … I thought that I should write a post and explain that I was officially signing off on this thing and moving on to other projects. It was about seven years since I’d started this, and it had served its evolving purposes over the years. In particular it became a place for me to write about recently departed friends and family, and that began to feel like a sad and macabre use of a personal blog. So it was time to say goodbye and maybe start a brand new blog (still not a fan of that word) or move on from that-word-ing altogether.
And then, March started to get really weird. That thing that we’d been hearing about that might possibly make its way toward us began to do so with startling ferocity. And within hours, it felt, I found myself in the epicenter of the US manifestation of a global effing pandemic. I decided to leave NYC to pay my folks a visit, with the idea that I’d come back and forth or that, at least, B would come up on the weekends.
This was a protracted version of the utter bewilderment I felt watching 9-11 unfold in real time 18 1/2 years ago. Huh. A plane. Oh. Another. I came up here and within days, oh, we’re not supposed to go back and forth to the city anymore. Okay. So does that mean—what does that mean? Remind me when this thing is supposed to end?
It became tangible very quickly, when we lost our friend Steve to this just a week or so after I watched video of him playing his last show and smiling that still-waters smile of his. Then, my cousin’s husband was diagnosed and in ICU on a ventilator. My cousin wasn’t feeling well but couldn’t get tested. In our last text exchange I asked what I could do to help, and she asked me to please just check in on her girls. She was going to urgent care in the morning.
We are now on week five of her being in ICU on a ventilator. She and her husband are both COVID-free; that’s the good news. And their journey continues. I do check in on her girls.
I joked with a friend today that I packed so quickly for this trip that I constantly look like I’m about to work out or go to bed. I’m not doing much of either, though sleep is getting a bit easier to come by.
If you had asked me to predict how I’d spend my time in quarantine I might have thought I’d be getting a lot of exercise and reading and writing. In the early days I was reading some, but now it’s really hard to concentrate on anything long-form. With the exception of the words you are reading right now, my writing has been emails, texts, and Facebook posts.
So what have I been doing? I’ve been spending quality time with my parents. Hard as it is to be away from B and from my home, this is an absolute gift. I have gotten very involved with a political campaign – if you know me you know which side of things I’m on, and I’m happy to tell you more. But this is not the place for it. Through this work, I have met an incredible group of women, and have become fast friends with some of them. I “see” them pretty much every day via Zoom, and we text and talk on the phone about every other aspect of our lives.
That’s the thing about this—every single being on this planet is going through it. There is not a moment that goes by that I am not viscerally aware of how much easier I have it then the vast majority of the world. And yet it’s all relative. This is hard. This is exhausting. I am so grateful for the work I’m now doing because it is keeping me occupied and engaged and away from the pit of despair in which I could easily wallow. I did wallow in it for the first three weeks I was up here. And now I’ve got other things to focus on and go longer stretches without being gripped by fear that more bad news is ’round the corner. There is no certainty that I will see everyone I want to see again, but then, there never really was. So I am relying on my version of faith and doing my best to keep calm and carry on.
At first listening to music just made me sad, made me ache for the experiences I’ve shared with friends seeing live music, going to concerts, playing the stereo (using that as a catch-all for anything on which we play music) during dinner parties. Now music is a big part of this. I have been listening to my friend Jack play his morning Facebook live concert while I eat breakfast. I have been listening in small doses to the music B sends me every couple of hours – music is such a part of our life together that it can be hard to listen to it without him. I have been taking guitar lessons, finally, with Jack, via Zoom. I’ve been continuing my voice lessons via Zoom, and now my mom has started taking lessons, and we are working on a few songs together. We are also working on a jigsaw puzzle and awaiting the arrival of another. It’s a polar bear, the new one.
It’s still some kind of winter up here – hailed today – so my walks outside have been sporadic but I know they will pick up again soon.
I “see” my friends as often as I can, via FaceTime and Zoom … and those who eschew such modern inventions I speak with on the phone.
I have been getting to know our new dog, who has transformed from a skittish and confused rescue who spent the first 16 months of his life in a shelter in Korea into a quirky and curious pup who loves chasing chipmunks and knows how to bat his puppy eyes when he wants treats.
There is beauty to be found in all of this, along with plenty of heartache and despair and worry and anger. While I can, I am working hard to grasp the beauty. And I’m finding it in places I absolutely took for granted before.
Wow this has been cathartic. Thank you for reading. I just might have to do this again soon because I have not exercised this part of my brain in quite some time.
Wherever you are, however you’re coping, know that we are all doing the best we can under extraordinary circumstances, and the only “should’s” are: wash your hands, wear a face mask in public, and be gentle with yourselves.
Sending you love and strength and comfort when you need it most.
p.s. I swear I’m not shilling for Zoom.