Everything old is new again. Last week, I sent a letter to a dear friend. I don’t think I’ve written an actual letter to anyone in years. And today I’m writing something for my blog, which is almost exclusively a place where I post photos. But years ago I blogged incessantly, almost daily, ad infinitum, on a different platform. (You can visit that ancient blog by clicking on the “My Old Blog” link at the top of this page.)
I’ve been wanting to start writing again for a while now. It’s kind of like an itch in the back of my mind, something minor but vexing, something clamoring to get out. “It’s the perfect time to do so,” I mused. (Yes. I muse sometimes.) “ … what with being cooped up and quarantined.”
Although to confess, I have gone out a bit. Oh, not the carefree, drunken whirlwind my life usually is … if you consider “carefree,” “drunken,” and “whirlwind” to mean a live-on-the-edge weekly trip to Target or numerous book and/or comic book stores or a movie at ArcLight or happy hour with a friend. And I miss all that stuff … dearly.
We all have touchstones in life. Mine are simple, and I miss them all. I miss bookstores, Target (yes, TARGET!), lunch or dinner with friends at some of my favorite places (Lobster West, Banker’s Hill), the simple pleasure of a long walk without a mask. I thoroughly realize I am one of the very few lucky ones; CNN mentioned today that only 29% of the US population can work at home. I am still gainfully employed. I have a comfortable place to live and am currently not wanting for anything. I feel reasonably safe, secure, and sane (that last one is up for debate with some of my friends and co-workers, I’m sure). On a scale of 1 to 10 on how comfortable I am with being alone, I’d say I’m a solid 7, maybe even an 8.
I’m used to being alone. I’m what you’d call a loner. No, not the kind that ends up on the evening news after he (or she, let’s be fair, it’s a crazy world) slaughters half the apartment complex and the other half says, “He was a quiet guy … a bit of a loner. Always said hi, though … “ I have been a non-psychopathic loner most of my life, so staying at home is no big deal. I have books. I have TV and movies. I have naps. And I have work.
2020 was always going to be a turning point for me. It started as the year I was going to retire. I had made that decision years ago. It’s the year I turn 65. It’s the year that most sounds like THE FUTURE, whatever that means … but when you grow up in the ‘60s, 2020 is some Buck Rogers vision, way off on the horizon, flying car and jet pack shit, at the very least. And it fulfills my OCD tic for numbers ending in “0” and “5.” 65 in 2020? PERFECTION.
And then, I was offered this “extra” job at work, a great opportunity, something worthwhile and maybe even my own “vision” for the future, so I took it. And my body and brain almost immediately told me, “Whoa … hold up. You’re too old for this shit,” and they both kind of rebelled on me and told me to slow down a bit and take it a little easier. Four months later I’m still trying to work that out, and both my physical and mental conditions have gotten better, I’m happy to say …
And then this all happened. Somehow, some kind of virus made its way around the world and here we are in America, at the worst possible time, leadership-wise, confronting a pandemic of epic proportions with a reality TV “star” at the helm of the nation, a man absolutely unfit for office who is more concerned with money and his own self-image than trying to save anyone’s life.
So here we are. The country is in lockdown. People are dying, and at the same time people are risking their lives to save lives, and to do simple, mundane actions, like delivering groceries or a pizza or books, things that bring some kind of joy or sense of normalcy to other peoples’ lives. People are rising to the occasion and becoming quiet, everyday heroes, despite the absolute lack of any kind of leadership on the federal level. I’m lucky to live in California, which has a governor who acted quickly and decisively from the outset. (I sometimes think my state, along with Oregon and Washington, should just secede from the Union and start our own country, but that’s talk for another day. Like maybe in November.)
I am on day #32 of quarantine. I occasionally go out for walks. I venture to the grocery store a couple times a week (I’ve given up on “delivery windows” and online ordering). Yesterday, I picked up a pizza. I wear my mask. I veer wildly to the side like some drunken sailor on shore leave every time someone comes near me. I “tsk-tsk” and “tut-tut” at people congregating and standing close, discussing their lives, especially the idiots who live down the hall from me who seem to have a balcony party every other day. I sometimes do something wild (this term used loosely) and look longingly through eBay at odd hours of the night, hoping to recapture some nostalgic item that will bring me some small amount of joy when it comes in the mail. I—rather morbidly, I suppose—started the process of doing an online Last Will and Testament, because—let’s face it—that’s something everyone my age should have anyway.
I know all of this will pass, I know there’s some light at the end of this dark tunnel that we’re all hurtling through on a speeding train with a questionable engineer at the throttle. I personally know no one (knock wood) who has this disease. But there are still days I feel like Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, up at the top of this post, sighing his way through life. I’ve always kind of identified with him, from his messy relationship with inanimate objects (kites, athletic endeavors, etc) to his obsession with redheads (“It’s my only weakness,” said Dr. Pretorius).
I’m guessing it will be June until we all come outside, take a deep breath, turn our pallid faces to the sun, and maybe start to feel just a little bit safer. I know that the world on the other side of this will not be the same as it was before. I know that 2020 will go down in my own personal history as one of the worst years of my life, if not THE worst. But I also know that this new world, with its own new rules and way of doing things, is a time to maybe start fresh, with a clean slate, and to get on with the rest of my life, bolstered by the fact that we survived something horrible.
I hope you find that fresh start, too.
More later (maybe).
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