I started this blog for a couple of reasons. The main one was to chronicle this bizarre time we’re living through for myself and the kids. Memory is a funny thing, and mine has always been wonky. For example, I can regularly recall the full jingle for random commercials for products that have been out of production since 1983, but just as regularly forget the name of someone I met six seconds ago.
I’ve read suggestions that people journal through this, both to remember and because its therapeutic. So that’s kind of what I’m doing here. I decided on a blog format because, try as I may, I’m lousy at journaling. As mentioned previously, my memory sucks and I generally forget to do it.
So having people read this (and thank you, by the way) helps keep me honest. It gives me motivation to write and remember every day, and that’s another reason I’m doing this. It’s an effort to build a habit and work the old writing muscles…rusty and carpal-tunnel-ridden though they may be.
What I didn’t expect was that it was an opportunity to try something I’ve probably never really tried in several decades of writing: emotional honesty.
As I mentioned in a previous post, it has never been a strong suit of mine, but I’m giving it a whirl here. Everyone is going through something right now, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that I’m not. We’re all trying to process what’s going on, and while I feel like most times I’m adapting pretty well and keeping level, every once in a while the fact of our surreality sets in.
On Sunday, I had one of those moments. I ran to Target to pick up a few things and as anyone who has been out in the world knows, it’s getting weird out there. Lots of masked shoppers and workers, lots of emptied shelves and plenty of distance.
I will say everyone was great. Plenty of respect and no panic, but you can feel the stress following everyone around. I’m sure I was putting off plenty of it myself. But I found what we needed, did the self check out and when I was on the way out, one of the employees came to sanitize the station I just left. She gave the most upbeat, sincere, “Thank you for coming in, and have a wonderful day.”
That might seem small, but I was so unbelievably impressed by that. She was a young woman, probably in her early 20s, and I’m sure that positivity had an impact on more people than just me that day. I was stressed because I had to be out in the world for a half an hour. She’s out there all day dealing with schmoes like me and still is able to demonstrate real humanity to the people lost in their own fear.
Driving home I had one of those moments where it all hit me at once. Bittersweet Symphony was playing on the radio. If you don’t know the song, the title is pretty descriptive. I drove past the cool park with tunnels that the kids love so much. In normal times, we’d probably have been there several times this week. It is of course, closed right now.
Of all things, it was that feeling…a longing to run around and play hide and seek in the tunnels with Amelia and Henry….that got me feeling the weight of all of this. Everyone’s life in limbo. We can’t do the things we normally do, not because of weather or economics, but because it could be the difference between life and death.
For just that moment, it all felt so heavy. No idea where the end is or where this all goes. But I kept on driving, did some breathing, and soon found myself equalizing again. The moment moved on. For one, Bittersweet Symphony came to an end, and another song took its place. Cotton Eye Joe, which is a lot less introspective. I’d apologize for putting it in your head for the next few days, but this whole thing is about shared experience, so here we go.
And for another, I got home and the kids were in a super upbeat and energetic mood, clearly not feeling any less happy for not being at the park I just passed. Their ability to adjust continuously impresses me. Sure, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, but there’s always dirt!
Clearly a reminder to me and all of us that in this moment, it isn’t about what we don’t have access to. It’s about what we do have access to. We don’t have to be in the same room with someone to enjoy their company. We don’t have to be at a restaurant to eat well. And who needs fancy parks and playgrounds when you have landscaping rocks and piles of dirt.