These are my relics: wallet, backpack, sneakers, backpack, sunscreen. Squeezing into a party, my shoes left at the door, my back pressed up against a wall close to the air conditioner, talking closely, very closely. Rush hour that seemed to last all day, letting one, two subway trains go by, but being packed in anyway. The long Starbucks line where a man my age stares at me and I remember that while I am not everyone’s type some find my arrangement of features and my countenance much to their liking. A well attended memorial service.
You already know what happens next. The hand sanitizer, the homemade bleach solution. We’re all in this together, until we look more closely and realize, no we are not and never were. The science is there but it keeps revealing more and more. There are no good assumptions anymore. The only way to stay ahead of it is to stay inside.
I’m nothing special to this virus. It doesn’t care that I’ve already had unbearable loss. It doesn’t care that I love my husband and children. It is like I can see it. I’m not even stir crazy.
I clap and cheer and then I stop. My mother did me a great service by instituting rules around thank you notes. This got internalized rather than rejected. But even she would not ask you to send the same thank you note again and again.
People outside of my apartment are bored. I don’t understand.
Everything hands can touch is spic and span. I imagine the fragile lipid layer of the virus dissolving as I clean. I take stock at what foods have come into my home, much of it substitutions, whatever was available, or a surprise. Every morsel of it is precious.
I hold and console. I make space for the others to do their work. I ask for protection to do mine and it is granted.
There is one day that I realize that the only person I am not mad at is Andrew Cuomo. I get more sleep and better sleep and that resets me.
Ambulance sounds remind me that I’m lucky.
When other people are assholes I look for the helpers. When I am the asshole, several people decide that it’s better to be kind than to be right.
I had already engaged in a reinvention and now I’m called upon to reinvent the reinvention. I’m going to have to ask perfect to be quiet for a while.
People say, back to normal or new normal. Neither of these things are reasonable. There are times in life where there is an actual dividing line. This is one of them.
Vacations, trips out of town, restaurants, and plans of any kind are for other people. There is a magical space inside their heads that doesn’t need to know where the nearest hospital is. The sense that things are clearing up, getting better, or that the virus is going away is like believing in unicorns. Rainbows happen sometimes but not because we will them to.
I say goodbye to how things used to be. I don’t even know what will be useful or useless after this. When I think of what it could look like for me at some yet to be determined time it looks like a white canvas. A clean, large, brand new blank slate. Like the first day of school, only better.
From the archives: