I had a dream last night. I was hanging out at a larger party, like a weekend of parties, like a music conference, but in a smaller party, like in my house with Taylor Swift. Yep. That’s right. And we were watching on TV a video she had just made of a song she wrote with Jeff Black. Now, Jeff Black is a badass songwriter. One of the greats. And I know him personally. But he’s not really hanging out with Taylor Swift in real life. I mean, not that I know of. But there he was, wandering in a field with his tv-movie bestie Tay Tay. And there I was, sitting on a picnic table in the lawn of my house with The Queen. Just chilling. Nothing special. And I said to her, “Let’s turn this off. I’m hanging with you. Why should I watch you on tv. Tell me what you’re most afraid of in life.” And she teared up.
And I woke up.
So I never heard what Taylor Swift is most afraid of.
I’ve been trying to not scroll FaceGram lately. Trying to stay out of that nasty disease that socials create: FOMO. Even though at this point in the pandemic, there’s nothing going on out there that I need to feel left out of. We’re all inside, holed up in our, as someone I know calls it, “pods” (and I’ll be honest, even reading “Pods” made me feel left out because clearly I didn’t know there was such a thing as a pod and by not knowing, I was not in their pod. FOMO). I’m in a pod of 3. And one needs a translator. My husband, who is literally teaching online every day all day and so is in conversation, or trying to be, with 13 year olds who aren’t connecting to his lessons virtually. And my 2.5 year old who talks non stop about sharks and bears and birds and planes. That’s pretty much it. What’s the point of calling people to say, ‘What have you been up to?’ when none of us have been up to pretty much anything.
This time last year I was holding my father’s hand in his last week on earth. It’s impossible that it’s been a year, but here I am, holding those memories at arms length because it feels too sad right now. I’m still raw from other things to allow that kind of loss back in. Right now. My son said, “Pop” to me the other day. It could have meant “ice cream” or “shoe” or “rock.” Nothing is what it sounds like from his mouth. He’s inventing language for himself. I say, “flower” and point to the red ones we see on our walk and he looks at me quizzically and says, “plobba?” as if trying the word on his tangled tongue. He said, “Pop” and for a second, I thought maybe my father was around us, in the air, talking to Huck. He’d be like that, as a ghost. Coming back to just talk to Huck and leaving the rest of us out. I’m wrestling with my Dad’s legacy right now. The dichotomy that was my father. A hero and a bully. Someone who I could be afraid of at the same time my hero. It feels like I’m the only one who wants to have that conversation. I am a pod of one.
Of any time in my life that a pandemic might be convenient, I’d say now has been the best time. I mean, maybe when Huck was a newborn would have been even more ideal because who leaves the couch in the first few months when you have a baby. But now is pretty good. He’s not in school. I’m unemployed so I’m home with him. He’s still unaware of the world outside the Pod, so as long as we keep our anxiety levels pretty chill, he’ll (hopefully) walk away from the Time of Covid unscathed. Masks don’t scare him. He’s curious. We have been – knock on wood – very lucky. Nobody we personally know has been negatively affected by Covid. We keep safe and yet we venture out. We go to parks and to stores masked up. We watch our friends pivot and start businesses to keep their houses, to pay their mortgage and to eat. We watch the InstaStory that looks positive and peachy and we do our own comparison dance in our pod and we stay on our own mats.
And in my dreams, I hang out with a woman who is a stranger but has the best Instastory of any of us. And I cut through the bullshit and ask her something real.
What are you afraid of?
Because any other question seems pointless to me today.