Monday, May 18, 2020

riding the waves of life during COVID

I started this post about two weeks ago, on April 28th. I must have been feeling hopeful then, but the weeks since that day have been a struggle.

That day I wrote this.
This is uncharacteristic of me but I woke up Saturday morning (April 25) and decided to clean up my gardens in the front of the house. I asked Ella to help and together we cleaned two pickup loads of leaves and sticks hauled them to the city compost site. Yesterday I cleaned up the back yard.
Today. This is what I shared with a friend.
I wish I could join the yoga group again. I want to, but I am so far down the rabbit hole I would have to claw my way up to come through the door. The last two weeks have been brutal. I can’t sleep. I don’t exercise. I eat crappy food. I’m lazy. I do work in my garden which has been a lifesaver, but that and baking bread is all I can do. All of the healthy things available to me, I ignore. I haven’t written on my blog in weeks.

Gunnar contacted me about online training and I agreed because it wounded wonderful and optimistic. He wrote up detailed exercise and nutrition plans which I have wholesale igniored.  I haven’t done it for one day. I even stopped doing my ten-minute walks. I have to admit that to him and I don’t think I can commit to anything being different anytime soon. 

I am joyful about some things. I love seeing the birds in my garden and I love seeing my grandchildren. It’s so hard to shoo them away and not let them on my lap or hug them. 
I have been making and sharing cookies on Sundays since the quarantine and that's been a hoot. I announce what kind on FB, people comment that they will be by between 3-5:00, and I make up a little bag for them and either leave it at the end of the sidewalk if I see them, or I tuck them into my little library. But I didn't do that the last two weeks either.
I talk to my mom every few days but I can’t seem to reach out anymore. I don’t do the zoom thing or FaceTime or any of those other things. Mostly I am just wallowing in a very deep reservoir of grief. 

I am heartened that the Arts Center may open in June. I need that contact with people and artists. 

This is more than I meant to say. I know the things that could help but I can’t do them right now. 
When I was trying to fall asleep last night, I was thinking that the pandemic and quarantine have been like two other traumas in my life, cancer and the tornado. The cancer diagnosis was like a big punch in the gut, but looking back it felt like the pain of it was personal. I could leave the house and everything else in life was normal, stores, restaurants, homes of friends. The tornado's aftermath was traumatic in a different way in that the devastation was apparent throughout our community. You couldn't go anywhere in town for a long time without seeing blue tarps, boarded up windows, piles of rubbish, and construction.

The pandemic has left people traumatized in a different way. There isn't anywhere on the globe you can go (if you could go, which is doubtful) where things would be normal. You can't drive to the next town, the next state, or fly to another country without constant reminders about what is going on with COVID. Many people wear masks in public, there are signs everywhere about social distance and hand washing and mask wearing.

I'm not sure if I feel better or worse when I finally do leave the house. I drove downtown on Saturday morning to mail a letter and Third Street was deserted. No cars parked the entire length of it. On a typical Saturday morning in May, our town is bustling. I came home feeling bereft.

I am happy at home. Regis and I are compatible companions and our standards for this time are appropriately low. We do the required things...garbage, dishes, taking care of pets, laundry, meals...but if one of us doesn't want to get dressed until afternoon, we don't judge. We aren't taking on any home improvement projects or organizing our space. I started to organize the kitchen cabinets and got about halfway done and quit. Now I have a folding table full of the stuff I pulled out and I don't have the ambition to deal with it. Sigh.

I do love being in my garden. The birds this time of year are spectacular...orioles, grosbeaks, finches, cardinals, catbirds. So many colors and songs. The garden gives the opportunity to focus on the two or three square feet right in front of my face so it limits my anxiety to volunteer trees and weeds. I have loved watching all my hostas emerge. My friend Mimi helped me get my shade garden into better shape last summer. I wish I could find the tags I used to label them or that I could remember their names, but I can't.

Our street is a common walking path for people so while I'm sitting on my garden seat digging in the dirt, neighbors walk by and we chat for a while, from a proper distance, of course. Two little kids came by with their grandma one day. They told me they call my yard the treasure garden because there is always something new to see. I invited them to come and walk the paths anytime they wanted to, to sit on the bench, and to enjoy the birds and flowers.

The last three days have been better. I have slept better, been more active, cooked more meals, and baked loaves of bread. I'm not sure the darkness has lifted for good but even if it's for now, I'll take it.