Social Distancing/Quarantine: Days 74-80

blackouttuesday

I typically don’t preempt my journal entries with narrative, preferring instead that they speak for themselves. But in light of current events I feel it’s important to note that despite how unsettled, terrifying, and unknown life has felt for the past three months, this is the week where everything changed. This is the week we went from living through a quarantine and a pandemic to something else entirely. The week begins on the day George Floyd was killed. The majority of the week plays out without this knowledge and in hindsight I feel so much shame and so much privilege, writing about parades that drive by my house. Cars decorated with rainbows and bunting, when there are so many neighborhoods in this country where this couldn’t be further from reality. This is a time of deep reflection. This is a time for white people to watch and listen and have tough conversations. This is a time for truth and reconciliation. This is a time for heartbreak.

Day 74: Monday, May 25
We go for a walk and it feels strange tonight -like people forgot how to exist with one another. And there are so many people.¬† I start to get nervous. Two little girls pick dandelion seed heads into big fluffy bouquets. Their hollow stems snap snapping with every pick. Downy seeds floating away each time a new stem is added. A noisy car drives up and picks through someone’s baby toys left on the side of the road. Near the fairgrounds we see a man walking a dog, and then another dog runs toward them. “Sorry!” a little girl on a bike calls. She turns the corner and rides after the dog. “Millie!” she calls. The dog stops running, sits and turns toward her. When she gets close he takes off again. She’s smiling and laughing so we assume this is a game they play, but later we see her chasing her dog still, up and down the street, past a group of elementary aged kids in the front lawn of the elementary school they haven’t been inside since March. A bunch of teenagers sit on their bikes at the end of a driveway listening to “Stand By Me” playing from the garage of a house. Someone runs by carrying a giant flag. The entire scene feels post-apocalyptic.
“This is weird right?” I ask Eric.
“I didn’t think so until that guy ran by with the flag, but sure. Yes, it’s weird.”

I’m not used to seeing so many people.

Day 75: Tuesday, May 26
I wrote an anecdote for today that was lighthearted and contemplative. It was about a piece of underclothing I’ve been unable to wear in quarantine because it restricted my breathing and I felt like I was suffocating. This narrative couldn’t have felt both more prescient and also more entitled. In the context of current events this bit of minutia about my life sounds privileged and tone deaf. Writing about my own personal experience of feeling real anxieties of life amplified by a piece of clothing was intended to be anecdotal. But now, with another reminder that there are people in this country who can not breathe because of the force inflicted upon them for perceived slights viewed through implicit bias is insensitive and cold. But it predicts the days ahead with eerie precision.

Day 76: Wednesday, May 27
Today there are TWO parades. Or at least, one parade that drives by twice.
Cars honking, balloons streaming out car windows. Metallic bunting. Signs. Rainbows.

As we leave for our evening walk we hear crow alarm calls. I stop and double back, peeking my head around the shed. Sitting between the two magnolias in the field is our fox. Her coat is more golden than ever. She’s sitting straight up looking at us. We watch her until the crows become too much and she trots through the field out of sight.

Day 77: Thursday, May 28
We’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating death. Our own and those we love. Because it is inevitable. None of us make it out of this alive.
A lone turkey vulture hovers overhead.
“When we die we won’t really be dead,” Eric says. “We’ll live on in the turkey vultures and the fungi.”
“I’m not really me anyways,” I say. “I am stardust.”

Mowing the lawn I contemplate the not knowing. I contemplate what it feels like to feel out of control. What it feels like not to know how this will end. The virus, but more broadly, my life here on earth. How unsettled it makes me feel. I allow it to be what it is without resisting. It suddenly occurs to me that I really want a hug.

Day 78: Friday, May 29
This is the time of year when I wake up tired.
In the early morning before coffee I give the gardens a deep dousing, hoping that they’ll get a good drink before the sun shines and that the humidity won’t allow things to dry out too much. I didn’t water last night because of the promised rain that never came. And spent yesterday in the unusual May heat and humidity planting our seedlings and the last of the seeds. Dizzy each time I stood up, moving slowly. I am prone to heat exhaustion after an incident in college when I worked on a road paving crew. Sometimes it feels like I have lived a million lives.

The ground has seized up, weeds snap free from their roots. We need rain to release them. So I wait.

All day long I feel an intense yet vague sadness. When I finally check the news I understand why. It felt like this country was at the breaking point before the virus. Now it feels like the heat has been turned up, the lid slammed shut. We are boiling over.

Day 79: Saturday, May 30
Everything I write sounds privileged.

Day 80: Sunday, May 31
I read an article in the NY Times that says: “It has been a year of national trauma that started out feeling like another 1998 with impeachment, then another 1918 with a killer pandemic combined with another 1929 given the shattering economic fallout. Now add to that another 1968, a year of deep social unrest.”

 

There is a lot I could say in times like this, but now is the time to listen.

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