In the beginning I kept making a joke, saying I wish I had put this on my list of things to worry about. I’ve worried about every other crisis—I’ve contemplated death and unemployments, brain cancer, and national catastrophe. I’ve feared the abandonment and the climate crises, but this wasn’t something I had yet considered. How could you though, friends have said. But, what if I had?
I’m not the only one in this and I hadn’t realized what comfort I gleaned from my personal periods of life misery happening while the rest of life, stupidly, went on. It’ll be decades before we should use illness metaphors again, but I wanted it to be like being sick in bed and watching my siblings and their friends—my friends, it was the neighborhood after all—play in the backyard. Unsteady, but rising—feverish and weak—I could watch and pine and pout. It was unfair, but it was comforting. Everyone and everything went on like nothing was happening, because it was, luckily, only happening to me. I would return to them and the world. Recovered, but returned. I could go back out and everything would be the same.
There were weeks where New York City felt like a quiet, burning city. Dying and silent, except for the 24 hour sirens. I have a video on my phone of ambulance lights through my bedroom curtain, the ambulance lighting the room like the world’s saddest disco ball. Everything is different.
Early on, people on the street would ask where we found our masks. We hand wrote grocery store lists because I guess our dirtied phones would infect us. A now daily wine habit is delivered. Skylar built backyard chairs and then the season turned. I’m covered in mosquito bites. On me, the Northeastern mosquito bites turn into instant, pregnant welts. The next day they are gone, except for the few that morph into wine colored bruises.
I write every day now. I learned to make ricotta. It’s easy. 200 degree milk and lemon juice and salt. I made one, terrible loaf of bread because I’m an idiot. I am more fearful, more apathetic, more emotional than I have ever been. I bought a seltzer maker and a bead loom I’ve never opened. I still fear the breath of others. Angry at my anger. Powerless, to boot! I’ve caught up on my reading I suppose. Gained weight. Have I mentioned the wine? I wrote one good email. Cried in bed, more than a few times. I walked by garbage on the street the other day, and I worried my mask wasn’t strong enough if I could smell the rot through it. I even miss the unencumbered smell of trash, I guess. I miss it all.
If you enjoy these essays, would you mind passing them along to a friend who may as well? xx