What can I write? Can you write? Can anyone write?
I’ve lost track of the days. The last time anyone came to our house was March 15th. The last time I went out to a store was over 2 weeks ago and I was terrified to touch anything. I’ve been carrying hand sanitizer with me everywhere I go since I was touring in the UK in January and started hearing about this plague that was killing people in China. When I got to Heathrow to come back home, there were more people wearing masks than I’d ever seen before. And it wasn’t even that many. It was mostly Asians. I wondered if they’d come from China or were heading home. But I didn’t really think too much of it. I was still simmering over the Brexit Real Exit that did or didn’t happen.
I mean, remember Brexit?
Then, a few weeks later I was in Sacramento touring and we’d heard about a case in the US. A case, in fact, in Sacramento. Only a few miles from us. Still, not a huge story here. Nobody was panicking. Trump still called it a democratic hoax. Fox was on full on blinder mode. I flew home from LA on March 1st and there were more masks. There was definitely a sense of foreboding in the air.
2 days later a huge tornado ripped through Nashville, through my old neighborhood and the virus still seemed far away and nobody was really thinking about it anyway. We were digging our friends out of piles of debris. I was babysitting at a church for victims and volunteer’s kids. I was on the ground in North Nashville passing out food and water to strangers. I was hugging everyone. Kissing strangers. I shared my water with anyone who asked. Still, the news was downplaying it. All the while Italy was dying.
It was a month ago that I woke up to the news of the tornado I’d slept through. It feels like a year ago.
Over 5,000 people have died. It may be way more than that by the time I finish this blog. My old city of New York, my hometown for 20 years, is on lockdown. I had my own test yesterday. A swap up to my brain. The nurse behind plexiglass telling me to swallow. Swallow what? I didn’t care if it hurt. Just tell me I’d live.
I’m terrified. Are you?
My son is coughing at night. He’s 2. The last 2 people I got to hug before we went on shutdown were his grandparents during his 2nd birthday party, which we had to cancel because of the virus. Although we were still on the fence at that point. I’d ordered the most beautiful Winnie the Pooh cake for Huck. I’ve frozen half of it for whenever we can share it with his cousin Lili.
Huck is coughing at night. I’ve been coughing for 2 weeks. A dry hack. I’ve got asthma and it’s been hard to breathe and I’ve completely lost my voice. My husband coughs and has a sore throat.
But we tested negative. We aren’t leaving the house. We pay more to get our groceries delivered to our door, left there.
We have a schedule. One of us is on Huck duty for 2 hours. The other the next. That gives one of us time to close a door and disappear. To take a shower. To watch stupid TV. To cry, if they must. I do. The schedule was my husband’s idea and it has saved us.
My hair is straggly and getting grayer. I live in soft pants and soft bras. I haven’t put on makeup or jewelry in 3 weeks. I can’t write music. I have no music in me right now.
I watch my son. I hold my son. I smell the skin of my son. I think, if this is it, if this is the end of the world, at least I have seen his smile.
It is not. The end of the world. I know this. My grandfather’s first wife and son died in the 1918 Flu epidemic. He lived to marry my grandmother 30 years later and have my mother. The world went on. The stock market crashed and a depression lasted for years, but people sang and danced and drank and went to war and bought houses and the world went madly on.
People keep saying this will change things. I can’t see that far in this fog, can you? I can only see the next hour in front of me, my next block of time with my son. My few minutes to meditate or do yoga or zoom call my mother or take a bath and be grateful that I’m healthy.
What a strange strange time to be the mother of a 2 year old. What kind of world will he see?