It’s been a few months of “lockdown” now, and infection rates continue to rise due to so many people in the USA not understanding (or caring) how infection spreads. Until it touches them personally, they simply won’t learn. For those of us who have been taking the isolation seriously, it’s especially hard, as our isolation often feels meaningless against the actions of these louts who care not one whit for the lives of others and simply go about their day as if they’ll live forever and The Invisible Man In The Sky actually cares about them who care nothing for anyone else.
How does that parse, logically? Do these people truly think they’ll be “saved” when the Second Coming finally happens? Why would they be? Even according to their own scripture they’re the most horrible people in existence. There couldn’t possibly be room in Heaven for these detestable souls.
Those of us who are sincerely trying to not only flatten the curve, but to stay healthy through this pandemic, some of us are starting to show the signs of stress due to the extended isolation from our normal activities. I’m not speaking of myself so much here, as I’m a dyed-in-the-wool homebody and the types of places I wish I could go and hang out just don’t exist. When I first moved to Silicon Valley in the mid-90’s, I had it as a goal to create some kind of artist’s shared workspace, but the more I’d seen about this place, the less it seemed any kind of likely proposition unless it could’ve made $$$BIG$$MONEY$$$. And that didn’t jibe with its purpose at all. It would’ve been more of a creative incubator, a think tank, if you will, but it would’ve taken scads of cash to keep it operational, and I didn’t see myself as CEO of a non-profit having to constantly hold fundraisers and beg for money. Boo.
So, there’s that.
I live in the wrong area to make this happen. Maybe somewhere in Europe, like Berlin, which has a thriving arts community and is still strong in economy. London wouldn’t work, as they’re very tightfisted and have been going the way of the US since the days of Tony Blair. Well, earlier, obviously, but even the “extremely liberal” Tony Blair was very conservative when it came to economy and very hawkish when it came to warmongering (like Obama, which folks tend to forget due to all the genuinely great things he managed to enact in this country).
But I digress, as usual.
I’m writing this post because there were squirrels having breakfast on my porch when I went to go water the plants this morning. I opened the front door very gently, which is what I’ve learned to do in order not to scare any of the local fauna away, and, sure enough, two grey squirrels stood up on their hind legs somewhat guiltily and looked up at me in case I was ready to chase them away. I spoke very quietly and said that it was okay for them to eat, and they went right back to it. I took a bit of a video from my phone which I’ll try to add to this post somehow—though that tends to require three different apps to translate the file to the right format. That doesn’t seem right to me. Whatevs.
Getting back to the actual title of the post, I recently experienced a strange kind of setback that took me by surprise. I’ve been doing pretty well, all things considered. I’m a natural homebody, so the having to stay at home thing works for me. I don’t have many friends, so there’s not been much to miss there. I think I mentioned recently that it has stung that my brother and my daughter have had people to FaceTime with, wishing there was a friend in my life that was close enough to want to stay in touch with me regularly. The friendships I do have are all online and managed easily through social media interactions. Translation: a virtual “like”, “heart”, “hug”, or the seldom-used “comment” have transplanted any IRL friendship. As far as I’m concerned, the friendships are as real as they ever were. Make of that what you will.
I was recently contacted out of the blue by someone I’d dated decades ago. I don’t really know why this person reached out to me, and though I asked, the reason they gave me felt flimsy. Nevertheless, we quickly fell into a pattern of speaking regularly on the phone, something I haven’t done since I switched over to an iPhone in 2012. I love my iPhone, and will never switch back to another platform, but its being an actual telephone has never been its strong suit, so I have become big on texting and social media interactions. Mostly texting, if it’s a person I actually want to be in regular contact with. Speaking on the phone felt novel and exciting again, and I felt on par with my family/roommates, with their regular outside contact (though no FaceTiming for me, sadly).
Always being one to question and wonder and dig into motives, after several days of this (perhaps more like a couple of weeks) I found myself asking this person if they were trying to qualify me as a potential future companion. The answer I received was an embarrassingly long string of the word “No”, with various emphases. Something like, “No, no, no, no, no…NO, NO, no, no, no…oh, God, no…”
I think a simple, “You misunderstand why I contacted you”, or, “Gosh, I’m sorry, but that’s not what I meant”, or, just one simple, “No” would have sufficed.
So that happened.
It’s not as though I’m seeking anything in particular. I’m not. I’m content. During my cancer treatment, I realized that I’d made a miscalculation by choosing to be single, as doing cancer without a companion is truly hard, but I managed somehow. I didn’t have a partner, but I did have my daughter, and one of my brothers was around as well, though he was incredibly busy. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital, anyway, so I guess the extra help I needed when things got really bad was there when I needed it. I didn’t get any visitors, save for when my brother came once after when they tried to clear my small bowel obstruction the first time, and it was such a nice surprise to see him there when I was so sore and could barely move. And my daughter visited me 2 or 3 times and even stayed with me when they thought I had a pulmonary embolism(!). It was a bit harder for her because she doesn’t drive and she had to take several buses to get to the hospital, but her presence was very welcome.
Anyway, I’m pretty content. I’ve made myself be content. This is my life. I know I want to live. I have relationships with my plants, and I talk to them whenever I see them, water them, trim them back—and when I do have to trim them back I make sure to acknowledge the pain that must cause them, but I reassure them that it’s needful because this unhealthy part is taking energy away from the rest of the plant and they will feel so much stronger when it’s gone, and of course I apologize for having to do this thing to them.
Oh, I’ve also started to apologize to any bugs I end up having to kill due to their breaking my rule of not having any bugs in the house. I try to have that rule as a vibration that permeates the space, but sometimes they don’t get the memo and come on in. I’m not okay with taking a life, even a buggy one, so I always tell them how sorry I am about it. There are the rare times it’s possible to relocate them to the outside, where they are welcome, but like I said, it’s rare.
This is one of those coffee-and-scones posts, where you think you’re getting one thing, but I give you a platterful of ALL THE THINGS, so you need to sit down with coffee and a plate of scones just to get through it all.
Back to the heartbreak of silence…after that extremely vocal rejection, which I supposed should have been expected. (I mean, how else could one respond, really?) There followed a series of days of no calls. Radio silence. Huh. Our conversation hadn’t exactly ended on that awkward point, we had talked a bit more and ended on the more usual and banal, “talk to you soon”. I didn’t expect it to be the next day, or the next, as I knew I’d made things weird. This is typical for me, as I feel as though I see things as they are and I say so. Kind of in a Naked Emperor way, if you will. But the days dragged on, and it made me wonder: was this person feeling as though I had exposed them? What was so impossibly embarrassing about me thinking this that they had to cut off all contact? True or not, why would they just not call any more at all, when we’d been talking every day, sometimes several times a day, prior to this happening?
It made no sense. And it made me feel terribly sad.