When there’s nowhere else to look, you start looking within. My takeaway from 2019: when the mirror’s fractured, you see a lot of different pieces of yourself. You cringe, you hurt, you lose, you learn…and you rebuild. Greatest gift any year has given me so far.
I’m not afraid of looking within anymore, I find peace there. (The fact that I can say that after 19 days of coronavirus isolation gives it even more meaning.)
There are still ghosts when I look within, one in particular. She waits patiently for my hand in her endless dance of rumination. But they’re just curiosities to me now, they don’t hold my attention. They don’t hurt anymore…
I found an open laundromat today. I wouldn’t quite call it a miracle, but…for days I’d weighed the efficacy and time of washing clothes in the bathtub, against how much risk could recycled underwear really pose in a world of video conferences and vitamin D deficiency? I’m glad I wasn’t forced to decide. I still don’t have an answer.
I always envisioned myself fighting hordes of zombies during the apocalypse. Turns out, I’m lugging overflowing bags of dirty laundry through masked faces carrying Trader Joe’s bags.
But I digress. The point I’m trying to make, the little things are big victories these days. The little things are what we have. There’s admittedly something resetting about that.
I think I read some advice online when this all started: make a decision about how you want to spend this time. Make the decision of whether I want to come out on the other side better, or whether I’m okay spending this time just waiting for it to pass.
I air fried sweet potatoes the other night. For being the reigning highlight of isolation (before being unseated today by the open laundromat), they were really easy to make. Slice and throw them in a bag with olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper. Shake, dump on tray, cook 15 minutes, flip, cook another 10 minutes, eat.
Another little thing I appreciate, well and a shameless excuse to throw in a picture of them with pride. I actually think in my daily afternoon hike through isolation delusion I was contemplating making a cookbook for the apocalypse.
Then I bit into one. So-so. But realized it would take exponentially more than two months of isolation for me to get cookbook worthy.
I write (sometimes pointlessly) to come out better on the other side of this, wherever that ends up being. 2019 taught me how to sit with myself, and being able to sit with myself has allowed me to appreciate that even though I have no idea what this is or how long this lasts, we will never forget this time.
Hopefully years from now I’ll be sitting in person with other human beings (that sounds so far-fetched right now), and we’ll be telling stories and sharing “where we were’s” about this moment in time.
I don’t want to remember how it started, or how it ended, or the news headlines. I want to remember the little things. Taking the little things with me will make me better, on the other side, even if just for an anchoring perspective. By writing them down, they’ll always be with me.
Gizmo, on the other hand, can’t wait for me to get the fuck out of this apartment. It started off great for him – multiple walks during the day, constant companionship and attention…but once it morphed into more frequent tooth brushings and having his nails clipped by my trembling hands, he’s ready for it to go back to normal. (Whatever that is.)
He’s getting older, he just turned 12 in December. I’m grateful for the extra time I’m getting to spend with him – even when he’s snarling at me in the morning for waking him up, or causing chaos on one of our walks because someone had the audacity to smile at him and say “hi.”
We’ve spent over a decade worth of moves, adventures and stories together. He doesn’t have another decade left.
But today…today I was able to spend the whole day with him.
Today was April 1st. Day one of the next month, a month of CDC guidelines, social distancing, bad news and isolation. For the past three weeks I’d been having a really hard time trying not to think of my apartment as a prison. But today, I finally started to realize it could be a cocoon.
That’s a perspective I owe to 2019 (and it’s ghosts).