Do you remember, child?
Hiding in the magical elsewhere of books
Seeking adventure on unsupervised bike rides
No one wondering where we were.
Then, like now, we walked wooded cemetery paths
Less afraid of the dead than the boredom of adulthood.
It would seem I spent a lifetime preparing for these sheltered days.
Weekends at the lake we made up games out of earth air fire and water
Lullabied after dark by cricket armies, parents full of beer and crackling bonfire,
Waking to the bossy cries of crow after crow after crow
in time to watch sleep’s misty blanket suddenly dissipate in the sunrise.
We swam alone from one shore to the other, hiked for blueberries,
Breathed to the pace of Phillies games on am radio,
and prayed it wouldn’t rain.
We ate the corn on the cob they gave us – no menus, no requests. No use in complaining.
We moved to the country before high school –
no cable TV or friends within walking distance.
When we could finally drive we didn’t know where to go
Rode around in the Camaro listening to The Cure, smoking cigarettes and drinking Dr. Pepper.
Grunge era college kids didn’t go clubbing. We passed the bong and drank bottom shelf booze in dorm rooms listening to Lollapalooza bands and rocking with the riot grrrls.
There was no World Wide Web; we didn’t know we were missing anything.
Spent my 20s at home turning babies into toddlers into clever little girls who watched us make life; not just consume it.
Compared to abuse, divorce, evictions, living with no hot water for months, no car for years, baking in a toaster oven, sleeping on a mattress on the floor until cancer surgery earned me a bed… these weeks of uncertain waiting are nothing if you haven’t got the virus.
If we are not fighting on the front lines of health care or life sustaining servitude, the only appropriate words are “Thank You.”
America, I fear your privilege is showing.
So many of us have only skimmed the surface of the pleasures you are so anxious to return to-
We have held our breath for decades, just barely getting by – this sacrifice is not a big deal.
Today, we stay home because it’s noble, not because we’re on house arrest. I’ll gladly take pajamas over thrift-store maxi skirts meant to hide the ankle bracelet from strangers.
It was painful to pull away from the bar in early sobriety but the party’s not worth it if it’s going to kill people.
More than seven years later it’s easy to say I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
I know I am not supposed to like this time – and I am flooded with compassion for the sick and the morning and the exhausted and the scared – and yes it’s going to get worse before it gets better –
but today, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to go back.
My daughter didn’t ask for cooking lessons before the virus. She spent her tips on take out with no fear of rainy days.
Every cough is an alarm. I keep taking my temperature, paranoid to pass on a silent sickness.
And yes, there is stress in pingponging back and forth from inspired gratitude for our better angels to the disgraceful political ego show.
But I don’t miss the frenzy of packing four bags to work two jobs, feeling guilty if I don’t fit in 45 minutes at the gym.
Working from home is an introvert’s dream. Extroverts keep your numbers, there is safety in solitude.
I will miss the luxury of daily walks when distancing is over.
The simplicity of limitation like a siren, the attraction of peace and quiet bringing me to calm.
I will miss the surprising intimacy of Zooming The Rooms in Brady Bunch squares.
I will always be grateful that shy students, too afraid to speak in class found the security to speak through cameras from within their comfort zones.
I will long for these days when so much was so freely given – free workouts, free yoga, free plays and concerts – so much talent and art bubbling up, we can’t take it all in.
Let’s save our complaints to advocate for the poor who are getting poorer, for the vulnerable at risk of losing their way, for the exploited who can’t stay home one day.
We are getting to know each other better from behind closed doors, seeing each other more clearly from a distance than we could in the crowd.
And there is some beauty in letting go of the illusion we are in charge. I saw a news anchor cry and politicians humbled. Finally, mental health matters.
It is okay not to be okay but the silver lining shines so bright – it would be a shame to miss it.
april 1, 2020