While I’m Here

When I turned 40, I started picking up on the things people in my age-group were saying about the aging process. There was one post, I forget the exact wording, about if you find yourself on the floor, you start looking for all the other things to do while you’re down there; clean up furballs, detail the underside of the couch, organize the bottom shelf, etc. Those are all preferable to the difficulty of getting back up.

Well, here we all are on the floor in our stay-at-home-ordered, social distancing. As I’ve stated before, I rather enjoy isolation, especially if I am “stuck” inside with family.

I’m starting to see this experience as the physical version of a therapeutic technique I’ve practiced for a few years; if you start feeling emotionally activated by something, take a deep, four-count breath, and as you exhale slowly, notice the things that come up for you. It might be an image, a color, a word, anything. Don’t interpret them, just notice them. when you’ve exhaled to the extent of your breath, do another deep four-count breath and repeat the process. With this process, I’ve had some tectonic realizations.

In the past 12 days I’ve been at home with my people, some prominent realizations have come up. While I’m here, I’m going to take a good look at them. Just notice them.

–I’m low energy today, and a little sad. I veer toward depression if I’m not careful, so today, I’ve taken small steps including showering, making the bed, filling and running the dishwasher, and lighting a candle that smells like a florist. And writing this.

–There is a feeling of being submerged, closed off in our bubble from the rest of the world. While I enjoy the separation from people outside my family, some of the techniques I engage during the daytime to allow Tim and Sophia to work from home set me further apart sensorily. When I put on headphones and then have to use my reading glasses, I feel like I’m in one of those old-fashioned diving bell helmets.

Image result for diving bell helmet

–On the other hand, I can hear myself think better these days, without the jumble of other people’s activity in my head. I don’t quite know how their activity influenced my thoughts before, but now, my thoughts are more peaceful.

–I miss working out at the gym. I miss being able to seclude myself (yes! I have always done this voluntarily) and focus JUST on moving my body. The gym in our apartment complex is closed, and working out at home is less effective.

–Social distancing feels a lot like the times when my daughter had to stay home because she had a fracture, or surgery, or was avoiding the cough going around school. Except now everybody is here, in the same spot we have occupied.

–The online dance parties/concerts/recitations are moments of joy and connection. I like that nobody can see me. Getting to see Patrick Stewart recite one of my all-time favorite sonnets, just him and his camera phone seemingly speaking directly to me, was bliss. 

–I’m *this close* to identifying the grand tree outside my window. It’s either a hemlock or it’s not. Will update as new details arrive.

–Going on FB makes me angry every time. I have met some of the most interesting people there, and have had incredible, stimulating conversations, but there is always that ONE JACKASS who lives to be contrarian. And yet–in order to get anyone to read this, I will have to post it on FB. *pulls hair out*

–I’m grateful to the business world for making work-from-home possible for two of our household. Even my daughter’s brand-new job has her set up with a laptop and a cell phone, and she’s working away in her office/room.

–I’m so freaking proud of that kid it’s not funny.

–I just found a pen up my sleeve. If you don’t think that’s newsworthy, you don’t know me.

–Tim’s going to cut my hair later. He doesn’t know it yet. I’ll prep each strand he cuts, he’ll just work the scissors. I know what I’m doing.

–I am calmed by the ability to order items by delivery, and then I am worried about delivery people and everyone preparing items for delivery. I have it good because of them. I want them to be safe too.

–I miss my job. I work at a community center run by Portland Parks and Rec, and I’ve seen comments on social media and elsewhere deriding the precautions taken by the city, accusing city employees of being lazy in NON-pandemic times, and spreading lies about city workers’ job security and amazing insurance. “Don’t feel sorry for city workers–they are paid well and have excellent insurance.” Um, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

I was just officially laid off from my part-time, no-insurance position, and lies like that make me want to flip some tables.

–I’m worried about losing my non-word-based friends, the ones I know in active spaces, in hiking and dancing and singing, the ones who like to get together to catch up, the ones who don’t respond to texts unless it’s “what time do you want to meet?” I fear we will drift.

–I’ve gained new word-based friends, the ones who meet me inside language and roll around in syntax and wordplay. That’s fun. Hope they stick around.

–The sound of Tim’s typing used to send me into a distracted frenzy. Now his clicky-clacky Muppet typing is a comfort.

he sounds like this looks

–I’m grateful that the world is starting to experience–and will hopefully eventually remember–some of the accommodations people with disabilities have been asking for for years. Remote access to classrooms? Video meetings? Food and grocery delivery? Social distancing to avoid infection? Clearly, we can do this. The lack of will has prevented us from making this acceptable. Maybe now, we can.

I’ll be back sometime. I hope people will share what they have observed in the quiet times alone.

 

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