There’s a large, rather alarming red stain on the sidewalk outside my apartment. After several moments of examination, a few oregano flecks told its story. What is now a sidewalk stain was once a jar of tomato sauce, perched too precariously in an overfull bag of unperishables, moved with haste from car to front door.
Last night, I broke like this jar of tomato sauce. It involved telling Jeremy exactly the kind of person he could marry if I die of Coronavirus (she can be pretty, but dumb), and making him tell me fifteen times over that Hudson and our parents WILL NOT DIE from this. I’d actually been doing just fine, making my quiet preparations, staying abreast of the news but not engrossed in it, and washing washing washing my hands. But then I saw some random clip on the internet of an organ donor’s father receiving a Build-a-Bear with a recording of his son’s heart beat in its new recipient. It broke me. The reality of loss set in. Sauce everywhere.
I’m not as good as writing about current events as I am at writing honest snapshots of my living room. I wish that didn’t stop me as much as it does. But, with a profound amount of privilege, I admit that the world news hasn’t affected the way my world spins quite like COVID-19. Like all of us, we’ve cancelled trips and optional medical procedures. We’ve lost money and something tells me, we’re not done losing it. We’re scared for our parents and our grandparents. Our childcare situation is more secure than most, but we’ll have to share our living room with a couple of two-year-olds a few times next week, while we work in the bedroom.
And today, we’re social distancing, which means Hudson, who has a stripe of yogurt on his nose, is wearing his parka, his pajamas, and his shoes, waiting for me to finish this blog so we can go move dirt around on the patio. And Jeremy is at his computer in his underwear cancelling over 1,000 Pokemon Go Live tournaments around the world, and frantically trying to secure a new revenue stream. And Maeby’s life is pretty much the same except there’s a new stain for her nose to study on the sidewalk.
Me, I’m checking our bank account, and googling whether or not a drive to the mountains will disrupt the curve flattening, and waiting for Hudson to notice my leftover freezer pizza and ask me for a bite (Maeby’s already noticed; she’s already asking). I guess it’s all fine.
But I also guess I’m kind of looking for the helpers Mr. Rogers promised. Not for us, we’re fine, but I guess I was kind of looking for the feel-good silver lining of Coronavirus, and I haven’t really found it yet. Maybe that’s the downside to social distancing–the distance. The proximity to humanity. The tangible ray of hope that comes from an in-person human transaction. Instead everything comes packaged over the internet, through a veneer that can’t be penetrated.
A gif is not as good as a hug.
Instead, the realest thing is that sauce on the ground. Which tells a story of panic, but also of preparation. It tells a story of long lines at the grocery store, and carbohydrates flying off the shelf. It tells the story of not wanting to be outside too long, of moving bags too quickly. It tells a story of loss, even if they only lost a couple bucks and a bit of flavor. It’s the part of the story we’re in right now. We haven’t reached the denouement, and we can’t force it. We can’t turn the pages any faster.
But the stain is less stark that it was yesterday, and so, too, is my fear. Today I have less fear than yesterday about overcrowded hospitals, and Jeremy’s second wife, and saying goodbye to people that matter to me. It isn’t quite hope, but only because I’m not sure we’ve reached that part of the story.
It isn’t quite hope, but it isn’t quite fear. And I guess that’s an ok place to be.
Stay safe, friends. I didn’t hoard toilet paper, but I bought the two ply stuff that lasts forever, so if you need a roll, I’m here.