I’m sure there are thousands of quotations about change. I don’t know of any that would adequately embrace the current tumult. My mind keeps playing tunes ranging from “Ch, ch, ch, changes . . .” (David Bowie) to “It’s the end of the world as we know it . . .” (R.E.M.). BUT – really everything changed dramatically, for me at least, six years ago and that is why my voice in this blog went silent. Those changes put family first (as was appropriate) and left me, well, behind. Maybe I’ll speak to that time at some point, but now I need to move ahead and writing has always been my catalyst.
We walk outside, the sights and sounds are at once familiar and foreign. A strange invisible cloud makes every human encounter awkward. In my neighborhood, an arm-distance style friendly place, every human contact becomes even more distant. We smile and wave and weave away from each other while walking the dogs. We have to raise our voices to say “hello” over the fence and back away when the smallest toddle curiously toward us. Even on the clear sunny days (of which we tend to have notoriously few) it all feels very cloudy and sad. The dear lady next door, who recently endured the long illness and passing of her husband, doesn’t even venture outside. I want to have her over for dinner, want to let her talk about the person we didn’t even get to meet.
What seems like eons ago, I wrote about the “never” list. The upheaval of the recent weeks took even the option of staying up beyond the midnight hour to watch a hockey game off of my in-home pleasures. I wish I could say that we were making great strides in finding new ways to enjoy this family-together-socially-distant life, but although we finally unboxed and “Escape(d) the Titanic”; played cards and Scrabble; solved many Sudoku and cryptogram puzzles; and streamed several movies, it doesn’t feel joyful. The idea of being under a self-imposed house arrest is suffocating. It’s not the actual staying in, not the physical distance, because we really haven’t changed too much – it’s the IDEA that all of this is happening along with a miasma of unknowns economically, socially, politically churning outside of our home’s walls. There is building anxiety with each day that it will stay like this – or worse.
I don’t know for sure, but I sense that there are probably millions feeling this same gut-turning unease. We all want to have everything go “back” to what it was before the health epidemic and I think we all have the burgeoning dread that nothing will really ever feel normal again. Knowing also that so many have suffered loss of health and life despite shuttering our lives makes it all seem futile. The recent refrain of how we are all in this together – doesn’t feel together, it feels like trying to Super Glue a crystal vase, there are pieces that are forever lost.
There is a grieving that comes with life-altering change. I just have to work through this, as all of us are. So, I emote – working through it. Listening to “S.O.S” (The Glorious Sons) and “Captain Jack” (Billy Joel) helps release some of the frustration. Watching the goldfinches at my bird feeder helps brighten the dark places in my mind. Making a spicy-gooey plate of Mexican food and washing it back with a double margarita fills a physical void. Being (gratefully) able to hug my husband washes away the tension.
Thank you to the optimists, thank you to the people who are working so hard in health care and life-sustaining services, thank you to those who are out there trying to keep us looking forward. For you, for my loved ones, for my neighbors I will keep my chin up, write and march on. I’m going to go out in my nightclothes and fill my bird feeders – maybe I’ll take a gin and tonic with me.