About That Pandemic

I wish I could say profound things about…well, anything lately. Do you ever feel like you’re in a crowded room with a lot of very smart people? All so clever, well-read, well-dressed. All of whom can speak so powerfully, so eloquently about the issue of the day, the month, the year. Black lives, the pandemic, women’s bodies. They have children, maybe, they know all about vaccine rates and trials. There’s that one women using words you can’t even understand to hold forth on Portland’s autonomous zone. And, everyone else is adding insights and nuance and there you are. You don’t have the words, probably, or maybe your words have already been said. You don’t have a contribution that makes a difference or that isn’t without flaws and holes. I’m that person and I’ve been choked for words for a year.

Now is probably the time to say that the pandemic has done a number on us, on me. It’s obvious, right? A year of silence both in written word and, to be honest, spoken words. But, it hasn’t been bleak inside our walls. That makes it even harder to talk about in Polite Company. There are problems. I’ve lost 25 pounds and gained it back (and then some). My daughter homeschooled and then wore a mask through an entire school year and, let’s face it, will do so for another year. She had one playdate. It was terrifying. My wife hasn’t played shows, just started practicing recently, only to see the probable end of practices coming down the Delta path. There has been isolation, mentally and physically. But, and here’s the Polite Company part which, Dear Reader, you are not, there have been some good things that outweigh the rest.

I hadn’t had a migraine until this week, a throwing up, horrendous, kill me now, migraine. This week, the week before I go back to work in the office. I know you know this isn’t a coincidence. I’ve been at peace, more calm, less stressed, slept better, woke up happier, you know, all the things you aspire to when you’re re-evaluating life, since I’ve been working at home. Now? I’m crying in the shower, throwing up in the toilet, and picking up habits I thought I’d left behind. I return to the office on Monday and even typing that makes my heart beat faster.

I’d love to keep this feeling. Having my wife and daughter close, with the same salary, in the same town, without having to work in an office. It seems like a tall order though, especially given the freedom my job typically holds (new boss, some questions). I’ll be working two days a week from home (for now) and I’m holding on to that like the proverbial drowning person. I feel like I can’t get any air and I’m sinking.

So if I’m without anything to say, you know why. I’m an indifferent texter or I’d tell you to text me. Even you, who still thinks you are Polite Company. I’m usually great with anonymous penpals, not so great with anything else, lately. I hope you can forgive me.

8 Responses

  1. I feel most of this. It’s been a bitch of a year.

  2. These words are so relatable on a level that is difficult to process. Our “outside”
    worlds have been turned completely upside down and it only makes sense that we would cling to our inside worlds for comfort and reassurance. I am so sorry about the return to work anxiety. Something I have held onto throughout this is very early on my therapist remarked, “humans are not meant to ignore their fears, it is what has kept us alive through millions of years, and now we are expected to not only ignore them but pretend they do not exist.” The dissonance is very real and exhausting. Glad you have this space away from mixed company politeness.

    • Dissonance. That’s exactly the word I needed. Thanks for putting into words what my week has been like so far (if not the entire year).

  3. I am full of rage at everyone and everything. I guess at least it keeps the anxiety at bay. That and weightlifting; I’m pretty sure it’s the endorphins or something. (I am not recommend *you* weightlift, it is merely the thing that prevents ME from murdering people in the streets.)

    The school superintendent and every member of the school board know my first name and flinch when they see me coming now…

    I’ll be teaching in person again, but at least everyone has to be vaccinated. My kids are in school (the little one’s private school had ZERO cases last year though I doubt we’ll be that lucky this year, though there are only 22 students in the whole elementary). My spouse is on sabbatical and his whole damn report is going to read ‘child wrangled due to pandemic’. So I’m trying to keep the frustration down to a dull roar. (It’s not working.)

    • My very deepest condolences on our collective shitshow. There is nothing anyone can say to make it better. I might try weightlifting (as long as I can’t throw the weights). Certainly peaceful walking isn’t doing the trick!

  4. I’m so glad to see you here. I was thinking of you the other day (only partially prompted by an old Facebook memory involving single stall restrooms—and gosh that sounds sketchy now that I’ve typed it all out on the Internet here, but I swear it was all perfectly innocent so long as one defines “overthrowing the patriarchy” as innocent). Anyway, suffice it to say, this is all too familiar and I hope the blogosphere provides some welcome respite from the surreality of everyday life.

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