Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Covid Choke

You’re going along, doing the grocery store pickups, seeing friends six feet separated, Zoom-ing. You might even say to yourself, I have a rhythm, I’ve worked this out, I’ve drawn on inner resources. But then – all of a sudden – it hits: the deep Doom feeling, the big Dread. It’s a Covid Choke. Do you have a better word?

My latest one came in a dream. In the dream, I was living the “old” life: I was facing … complexity. Things were happening, a lot was simply …  occurring. I was faced with decisions about paths to take, things to decide and take responsibility for, things to figure out. Things to go and do and experience. Choices to make.

It was such a rich life, a full life. There was theater and movies and travel and potlucks and lunches out and visits. It was just so FULL. Not busy and fast and rushed, but FULL.

So then I woke up, Covid-Choked by Doom and Dread. Would this go on FOREVER?!?  Would we always have to trade our rich lives for this sort of minimal life?

[Okay, we’d watched The Old Guard on Netflix, so part of the nightmare involved that horrendous iron cage the woman was put in for ETERNITY.] 

Let me repeat again because it bears endless repeating: my Covid is on a secure boat in a relatively undisturbed sea. I am not facing financial ruin, educating a child at home, dealing with death or serious illness. I am LUCKY! My heart and donations go out to the seriously challenged members of our world and the Food Bank of Alaska.

But I still choke. Occasionally. Still feel the punch to the gut, the horror of never-agains, the catastrophe of what ifs. The darkness that descends, scares the shit out of me, and then … dissipates. Because life goes on and this is what we have.

Yes, I’ve been artistically inspired and discovered new things. Yes, I’m navigating new technologies. Yes, I’ve learned to manage a household with inconsistent resources. Yes, I’ve learned how to visit with friends in physically-distant ways. Yes, the library reopened so I can consume books again. Yes, I actually liked Hamilton on TV better than Hamilton on Broadway (I could tell all the guys apart.) I haven’t gone blank or morose or bitter.

But it’s all taking place on the same stage. I’m watching every play being conducted with the same set, the same lighting, the same direction. I get outside, I explore in Nature. She’s still here, but – heresy! – she’s still trees and mountains and trails and creeks, and while those might be astounding, they can’t cover up the holes in the human-made, cultural universe. Everything has to fall within the same guidelines so no wonder everything feels sort of same-same, bland, no surprises. As one friend put it, it’s missing … dimension.

Maybe that full, rich, vivid dream came because the adult daughter is with us for a month. She can work remotely, so she was able to stay beyond the quarantine period to achieve “normalcy.” She faced airline travel, three Covid tests, and isolation and masking in our house to get to spend quality time with us. So as we approached “normal,” I guess I was left to dream of what the Real Normal used to be like. The rich, complex, full, tangled Real Normal with things HAPPENING. In person.

So of course I’d wake up to a Covid Choke.

And then, when I went out, I put on my mask. Choking doesn’t mean anyone gets to throw a tantrum.


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    1. Wow, you have an actual date to move in! How great! But handling all that contract management is NOT simple, NOT same-same. You're handling complexity!

    2. And that's the point. There is always another way to mess up our life with 'complexity'. It only takes another project.

    3. Another day; another drama. Barbara, I had a bad day yesterday. Hated myself for the part I played in it, too. Not much to redeem myself, but at day's end, remembering sleep solves many problems.

      Woke up to find another day. Also resolved NOT to deal with the legal tangle our solicitor is putting us through because that's the way attorneys are: afraid of the world & its consequences.

      A bit like you & me, really. But I don't find them particularly enjoyable (professionally speaking) just as don't think we do ourselves when we spin into that hole of the world at its worst.

      But your condition is cultural just as mine is. East coast Jewish angst is so much more colourful than midwest Nordic angst.

      Can we get over it? Nah.

    4. I just finished reading Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill. In the book, the character is a New Yorker, married to a guy from Ohio:

      '"I fixed the wobbly chair," he tells me. "And I put a mat under the rug so that it won't ride up again. ..." This is another way in which he is an admirable person. If he notices something is broken, he will try to fix it. He won't just think about how unbearable it is that things keep breaking, that you can never fucking outrun entropy.'

  2. I also periodically feel the feeling of dread you describe. I didn't have a name for it, but I knew it was a reaction to life in the time of Covid. Thanks for acknowledging it and naming it.

    1. The thing is, I'm not sure the dread is an only-Covid thing. I think Covid gives it its ... flavor.

  3. Love it! I am functioning well, with much lemonade being made; but there are the few deeply important things missing. I will travel to visit my mom - now that I know how to do it safely. I hope to visit my son and younger grands, too. Everything else is managing well. Family is the big reward.


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