This past week I had two separate virtual cocktail parties with some of my favorite people and the resulting joy was a little over the top, even for me. I’m hermit-y by nature; I work from home; I panic mildly and sweat profusely in the half-hour leading up to my leaving the house for a social event. But I love the people I love with a fierceness that feels like oxygen to me. The world seemed like a different place, or a more familiar place, after that first cocktail party, for a little while.
On Saturday we had visitors. They stood on our front lawn and we stood at the front door and we called out to each other, back and forth, for about a half hour. And again, the world felt familiar again, for a little while. A semblance of balance was restored, for a time.
How are you doing? Are you tracking the changes in your mindset? In your moods? Are you wondering who you’ll be by the time this is over? I’m wondering that all the time. My perceptions come in and out of focus as I shelter in place, revealing their strengths and weaknesses, collapsing or standing tall. Some surprise me. Others do not.
I spent a good deal of today wanting to run away from the presence of my mind, soul, and body all in one place at the same time, all in one place for a long time now, and for the foreseeable future. It’s so much easier to be yourself when there’s not ever enough time to truly sit with yourself.
Several of us, it seems, have felt this moment coming for a very long time. For the majority of our lives. (I was amazed to discover that I’m not alone in this.) Listen: in a crisis, I’m your girl. I’m calm, confident, strong, and I will know exactly what to do and in what order. I will not collapse until the coast is clear.
A slow-moving crisis, though, that’s something else entirely. I collapse and get back up, collapse and get back up, sometimes several times a day. And at night I don’t really rest; my dreams are all strange now, featuring casts of thousands, confusing plot lines, and an ever-present, slow-moving dread that I’ve forgotten something mildly important and the cards are stacked against me and I’m running out of time and no one seems to know or care. I’m trying to get places I remember from dreams within the dream; I’m driving on endless loops of freeways too ridiculous for even Los Angeles; my son is starting college but neither of us know where he’s supposed to be or when; I’ve lost my cellphone and am frantic, but have to stop into a row of stores and take my time looking over the merchandise.
I’m so grateful to be quarantined with the two closest to my heart, lacking for nothing, with a beautiful yard in a place where the weather’s really not much of an issue, ever. (There’s that constant apology I mentioned previously!) I know three people who’ve contracted COVID-19. I know countless others who’ve seen their incomes all but disappear because of it. Missing people is the absolute least of it. But I miss people so much. I miss them more than I thought I could.
Make no mistake: we’re finding out what we’re made of.
I hope I’m made of more than this. I hope that, as the weeks stretch on, I strike steel somewhere in my core.