Well, hello there to my new followers, and hello to all my ride or die readers. How are ya?
Sucky? Worried? Anxious? Possibly disheartened, depending on the day?
Yeah, to say that it has been a year would be an understatement. It’s hard to write about, because what hasn’t been said about this time? This “unprecedented” time. These “trying” times. That one is a particular favorite of my youngest son, affectionately nicknamed “Little Dude,” even though he is now officially taller than me.
He likes to use it when asked to do something he doesn’t fancy doing. For instance, taking a shower and washing his hair. The response? “In these trying times, I’m not taking a shower tonight.”
It’s a real hit with my husband, as you can imagine.
I know one thing — there have been some great opportunities to rethink what’s important to me, and opportunities to focus on what matters most, and opportunities to slow down and just chill in the backyard with the family, which has been really grounding and peaceful in “this trying time.” And, not gonna lie, opportunities to buy really pointless but instantly gratifying stuff on Instagram. The ‘Gram has my number, I tell you. So many must-haves in the world of shiny things, items to accompany tea sipping, dog paraphenalia, you name it.
I do appreciate the reset, when I’m not worrying about how to navigate a “year of different,” especially since I am an educator, and planning for next year makes most of us break out in hives.
But here’s one thing I do not appreciate. I am just now able to start creeping back into the world of writing, and I honestly don’t really know why.
If I had to talk about pretty much the last year or year and a half of very active NOT writing in my life, I would first chalk it up to a new job, and a son (Son Number One) who suddenly blossomed into a figure skating maniac, and losing the best evil genius of all time, our chihuahua Stefano diMera (rest in evil power, little one).
Most of that was just lack of time. Writing requires that you commit to it, at least in the form of sitting down and plugging away.
And yes, COVID 19 didn’t really give me the gift of time like it did some people. I am absolutely grateful that I continued to work (and work a LOT) through the initial shutdown especially, as I know a lot of families whose livelihoods have been heavily impacted, and when my husband and I were both deemed essential workers, I breathed a sigh of relief. But the working from home just basically turned my job into a very long continuous Google hangout, and without the barrier of needing to physically be at the office, man, work can creep into many corners of your day/week/weekend/spring break/always.
I am proud of the work I’ve done with my team at my educator job, and we are so proud of the teachers we serve and what absolute rock stars they have been through all of this crazy sauce.
But I am tired. My brain was not in the writing-a-novel mood at the end of a long day of pandemic. My brain was in the fetal-position-crawl-under-the-covers mood. The go-very-quiet-and-dark-when-the-Google-hangout-was-finally-turned-off-at-the-end-of-the-day mood.
One of my friends used an analogy to describe all the work that has been happening during the pandemic: this is not building the plane as we are flying it. This is building a thousand ships in the hope that we may be able to sail one of them, but knowing that the river is changing course and overriding its banks so often now that we might not even be near the river to hop in any of our boats when the time comes.
It was all I could do to eat and brush my teeth and whatnot. And my husband and my kids have taken the lead around the house, which has been awesome.
As we finally got in the rhythm of all of this, and this “school year” (I use the term loosely) wrapped up, here is what seems to have finally healed my brain from all of that problem-solving of problems that have no solutions:
- I have craved connection with my family. We knew how to have a Zoom meeting all along — why did it take this crisis to get us to reach out to our faraway family in this fashion? It’s felt warm and comforting to connect.
- I have been going on tons of brisk walks with friends. I have made time for this, and it has gone a very long way in quieting the noise and worry in my brain. We are social animals, we people.
- I’ve just been sitting. Sitting out in the backyard. My yard looks nicer than it has in ages. I watch birds, admire deer, hang on to my dog when she wants to charge after every squirrel interloper. I pay attention to the weather forecast, prepare our chimnea for little fires and possible smores. I follow the shade and drag my new lounger (Mother’s Day present — thanks, boys) around the yard so I don’t get sunburned.
So today, I write to you all. I bought new stationary, and I plan to write to friends, as well. And I tonight, I dipped my toe back into the novels that keep pinballing around my noggin. They are pretty impatient — I keep having weird iterations of scenes play out in dreams. None of them are any good, mind you, but the brain is trying to get back to it.
I think that writing has always been a place for me to reflect and find peace and seek answers. When the pandemic was piled upon by first an earthquake in my hometown (we’re all fine, but we don’t do earthquakes and aftershocks, it’s not our thing), and then, distressingly, a lot of pain and rage surrounding the treatment of people of color by people in authority, writing tugged at me, because it’s where I go to make sense of things.
I have no idea how to make sense of 2020, but hopefully now, in these trying times, I will at least find the words to grapple with it.