Welfare Check in a Pandemic
Or, this has been kind of a bummer huh?
I thought I was handling this whole thing pretty well, but I guess . . . I was sort of lying to myself. Or maybe this comes in waves. Everyone is different right?
I was, at first, prone to take a lighthearted approach to all this and look for some grounding. It was honestly amusing to me that this year I had carefully planned and sworn to be different than years before would be thwarted by something so simple.
For the past few years I’d been so bogged down by my own personal failures and insecurities that it completely clouded over nearly every aspect of my life. It was like looking at things through eyes stinging with chlorine. Blurry and unpleasant. There was so much I was unhappy with, so much I was struggling to fight against and change to see some way out of the brambles I had grown and twisted around myself. Well, none of that really matters to what’s happening now.
Long story short, I had decided that 2020 was going to be my year, most assuredly. I had concerts mapped out, tickets bought for one in the summer; vacations and a plan to move my life forward in a direction that would make me happier, regardless of what anyone thought. I was so full of . . . hope, on January 1st. I walked into work proudly on that morning, a bold enamel pin of Spider-man climbing a brick built 2020 pinned to the lapel of my uniform. Nobody was going to stop me.
And nobody did.
But something stopped the whole world in a matter of weeks.
I wasn’t overly concerned the first couple weeks, it was relegated to just one country at that time. Their stories were scary and I felt compassion but not a sense of impending dread (yet). There wasn’t much put on the local news and it wasn’t a big concern when so much of my time was spent looking for new jobs, new opportunities, new methods of distraction.
It spread, of course, to other countries. A lot of the Asian continent . . . Then it hit Italy. Then it hit New York. Up North got their first few cases, some traveled a little further down. And then it came home. To Florida. Suddenly it was all anyone could talk about. New safety protocols. Who was staying open, who was closing. I got more concerned then; I work in the hospitality industry. Do you know how many people I come into contact with a day? In an hour? I never bat an eye, not even during flu season. COVID-19 wasn’t quite like the flu though, was it? So much more deadly, some people had it and never knew as they passed it along to those more susceptible. Then they were talking about what would remain open or close up for a little while. Then . . . it was my last day, coming in to work.
I certainly will acknowledge that I have had a far better time than a lot of people. I’ve been getting paid for longer than most. I was well stocked on essentials even before this pandemic started and everyone bought and sold in panicked bunches. I was ready for however long this would take.
I knew exactly what to do during this waiting game; I had to keep my mind occupied and my body in use. Exercise, afternoon walks . . . books that were unread on my shelves. I played Wizards Unite every day, looked up aerobics videos from the 1980’s- and I now understand the fascination with Richard Simmons, I feel like he genuinely was proud of me following along to very low intensity dance routines- and made sure to drink at least half a Tervis of water. I had hard cider stocked up for nights I wanted to get crazy and relive the rush of drinking on “off days” like I was still working. I watched the news religiously, three times a day, both local and national to keep informed and learn what part I could play in helping others. I was genuinely content, being away from a job that drained me so much. I bought a new laptop, the one I’m writing on now. I purchased a subscription to Disney+ and delighted in magic coated nostalgia.
It’s been . . . Five weeks? I can’t recall anymore, the days started blending together about a week ago. My family keeps needling me to visit down South, citing half of the household still works out in public so the danger is present no matter what. How do I tell them that I haven’t been able to get out of bed before three on most days, and therefore can’t really garner the energy to make a four hour trip to them? How can I explain that I’m lonely but can’t stand human contact right now. Can hardly bear the phone calls that inevitably bring up the food being thrown away, the jobs being lost, the people being wrought with despair all over this country. I don’t watch the news anymore, I can’t stand it when they bring it up in calls but never want to express that because . . . what else is there to talk about?
I can’t sleep anymore. I sleep fitfully, four hours or so and not even at night. It’s 8 am before my eyelids tug down and I blink again only to realize its 12:30. I sit on a couch and stare at the sunlight making stripes on the floor and wonder why it's so golden, only to realize I'd been sitting there staring for hours longer than I anticipated. I knew how dangerous it would be to let myself slip into this sort of state, what I had been fighting against since this all started. I just don’t understand how I was starting off so strong, keeping active and now . . . I feel so cut off. Adrift. What’s wrong with me? There’s so much left to do. So many people to talk to. Even this, the first article I’ve written in months . . . feels like a bittersweet victory. I’ve written a complaint, like a dissatisfied customer. What a joke.
I’m really trying to get out of this. It’s like, when you jump into deep water. That first shock of the water engulfing your body, and then you’re sinking down like weights are attached to your feet for the first few seconds that gravity still works on you. Right now, I (and probably a lot of other people) are in that sinking phase of the leap. The sudden upheaval of our lives was the shock of the water in slow motion, and now we’re in the descent. Then, eventually . . . no rush, but at some point we’ll start to slow down and come to a sort of stop. We’ll remain suspended in time, looking around as we hold our breaths for a few more seconds to contemplate the new situation. After a time, the ascension has to happen, doesn’t it? Our feet start to gently paddle and kick, and our arms may start to push downwards to help with the rise. I hope so, at least.
I’m really not even sure why I wrote this. I suppose . . . to let someone know they’re not useless for their Quarantine being spent sleeping and fretting. Or doggedly pushing through and ignoring all worries. There really is no way to know what’s going to happen right? So, i think the point is: be kind to yourself. Let yourself have the dip in moods and irritability. Let yourself have the blinding optimism, if you have that. I might get there again in the next few days. Or a few weeks. Hard to tell I can be a moody blight.
Just take care of yourselves, all right?