So this is our new normal.
At least for now. For the time being. For the foreseeable future. I have never heard all the world so still in a city. I have never been afraid of the night like I am right now, sitting in my own backyard at midnight on a Saturday. Stripped of the comforting sounds of distant freeways, people chatting across the street in another yard, car doors slamming, motorcycles zooming, I am…disquieted.
Disquieted about so many things, really. And is that even a great description of what I currently feel? The stillness of the night is not what is frightening, it’s really what might be deep inside that stillness. Are there spiders and bobcats? Coyotes? Is there a snake in the tree next to me? Is there a rat on the roof? Is the natural world being lulled back into a sense of time before we started ravaging all of everything? Maybe not so much just yet, but then my mind wanders away from bumps in the night to the greater issue of all the living things we’ve ravaged.
My mind races and zooms even further out, then in, and I start to be aware of my breath. But not in a zen way, in a “holy shit why can I not just slow down my breathing” kind of way. Because we have all been forced to spend time with ourselves lately. Too much time. Oodles and fucking mountains of time. And yet I think about all the people in the country, on the planet, who would give anything for one more moment of it. I think about how my routine of extra precautions perhaps doesn’t even matter. That’s the one that really sends me over.
Here’s how I know I am not okay. That nothing is okay. I cannot be bothered to “move more.” I cannot find my fucking breath because it is everywhere and scattered and ragged and pregnant with fear. I cannot just go take a walk. I come back from one weekly trip to get an essential or two and I cry for 15 minutes in the shower. After I think I am done crying, my brain reminds me hey, do you wanna feel real bad? Good, because you don’t even know anyone who has contracted it. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ONE PERSON YET. You should be ashamed because there are hundreds of thousands of people who are crying for the loss of people they loved. There are a million other ways I know I am not okay, but the shower guilt cry is a sure sign.
love that during this, millions have lost their jobs, that our government hasn’t even begun to do enough anything, that some of us who have been lucky enough to continue to work do so with active trauma happening continuously while we tend to children, spouses, and all other aspects of a life that has been drastically narrowed down to 4 walls. It is all a mess, a shitshow, a catastrophe of epic proportions, even before you start tallying any loss of life. The fact that I am inconvenienced regarding my comfort level without toilet paper means literally fucking nothing compared to nurses, delivery drivers, grocery workers, and many other essential service providers who are risking their lives without necessary equipment that is now required to do their job. Sometimes, a job that doesn’t even pay the bills.
Nothing, I repeat nothing, is okay.
Yes, I’ve read all the stuff, and I do mean ALL THE STUFF. Haven’t we all reached the end of the internet at this point? If not to search “is migraine a symptom of COVID-19” then surely to look at endless kitten pictures so we can try to wipe our brains before sleep?
There is a bird that sings outside our bedroom window all night, every night. I’ve never heard this until recently. If there’s one glimmer of okayness for me, it’s that. While I am in my panic, when the lights are out and my husband snores softly beside me – when my eyes are wide open and I can’t pull together the pieces of my entirely fragmented mind, I listen for the bird. I think about what it takes for me to just focus on this new thing. The thing that is happening right now.
I have heard “we are going to get through this” and “this won’t last forever” and “when things get back to normal” from a lot of people in a lot of places. Those phrases and statements, while hopeful, ring hollow to me. I want to hope, I really do. And I do believe we will – well, most of us – get through this. I have read that we won’t be able to go back to how it was before. That things will always be different and changed. I have to ask myself if I really think that’s true in the way I want it to be: To not go back to the greed, the fear-mongering, the lack of preparedness, the narcissism and puffed-up bravado of the immediately gratified culture we have been living in.
I mean, we’ve all been forced to spend oodles –
fucking mountains of time with ourselves, right?