1. Make a list of all of the things you want to accomplish during the COVID-19 quarantine. 2. Get immediately stressed out by the list. 3. Throw the list away.
The Bond House had a baby. Well, Michael and Claudia had a baby, and the rest of us are proud aunts and uncles. Mara was born into a strange world on a Friday morning after 3 days of labor. Shortly after, she stopped breathing and turned blue. After she was stabilized, doctors informed the new family that their daughter would have to remain under observation for five days before coming home. We were relieved that there was a plan in place, to know that she was getting the care she needed; but while Mom, Dad, and Abuelita focused on their Little Love, the rest of us were coming to the realization that our lives would soon be upheaved by more than just this small new life.
I mark my life with music. If there's a song in my playlist, there's probably a strong memory associated with it. With the rise of streaming services such as Spotify, I have enough data to serve soundtrack to my years going back to 2016. There's always a theme (and that theme is usually "Power ballad me to work, Glass Animals"), but this year was different. 2019 was hard as I came to terms with parts of myself I didn't even know were there. It was hard as my family struggled to keep itself together. It was hard as I said goodbye to things that I loved. It was hard as I realized that this was a year of healing stasis, not action.
Whenever I finish a project, I feel empty. It’s not a scooped out feeling, it’s more of a “I’m not here” feeling. It’s like existing in a sensory deprivation tank. Finishing the last draft of my novel after 8 months of work was similar. When I was done, there was no fanfare or feeling of elation; instead, it was like I had been editing someone else’s pages, not my own, like the pride belonged to someone else. Why is it so difficult for me to feel proud of anything I write? Why does it feel like this draft is only tangentially attached to me instead of an actual piece of my spirit? Is this me rejecting my child? Am I a bad mother? Or have I experienced enough rejection and lackluster responses that I don’t want to run the risk of growing emotionally attached to something that is so…me?
Healing is a complicated journey. You can think that you’re all done, but then something happens to remind you that more time is needed. The worst part about that is that the wound doesn’t need to tell you that it’s there because you’ll check for yourself. Like with a bruise that’s turned green, you poke at the pain to see if it lingers. “Hm, does this hurt? Let me test it.” You apply more and more pressure until you can feel the pain again. It’s never as bad as the initial injury, but it’s still there. Different, but there.
It's funny how quickly we bond, to the point that we get so used to life together that it seems impossible to live any other way. The Bond House is a place where that happens with some regularity. When we got started in early 2018, there were 8 of us: 8 strangers who agreed that living in a totally-not-haunted house was a good idea. We were the ones who put the House's heart together, helped shape it into what it is now, and have become closer than many people are with their own families. Now our rooms are full, but the cast is different. Most of the original 8 are gone now, or are permanently traveling, and I have to say that it's hard. Even harder still is that this original number dwindles still. Theresa is leaving today.
Months ago now, I told you that I was feeling better than I have in my whole life. That's still true. In fact, sometimes I forget that I have depression. Sometimes I forget how bad things actually were. Sometimes I forget how it feels to lay on the kitchen floor and cry. Sometimes I forget that I attempted suicide. But the thing about depression is that it doesn't forget you. Depression has a long memory. Depression is a long memory. So yes, I am okay. So yes, I still have depression.
Since the rousing success of Fonduesdays in December, many of us here in the Bond House have agreed to be a part of other challenges and month-long themes. While Vegan February was left up to the likes of Lark and Brennan (though the rest of us did gladly eat whatever they made), we have found other ways to engage in communal activities. March, for instance, was a speed-reading month, a skill that I was forced to learn in college and was willing to exercise in solidarity. I'll let you the secret to learning this invaluable ability: read things you truly do not care about. This month's fodder? Romance novels.
Another year has come and gone, and I have to admit that 2018 was amazing. With 2017 being such a roller coaster, the consistent joy of this past year was a relief. I found myself in this position of, for the first time in years, feeling utterly safe and comfortable--which led to this bizarre experience of being able to flourish (sort of like a house plant that's been replanted in more enriching soil).
After ten minutes out in the fresh air this morning, my fingers are numb. It's that time of year in Boston where it can be perfectly pleasant one day, but bone-chilling the next. Luckily, with the holidays coming to an end, the House is warmed by the return of housemates from far and wide. We end the year as we began it: together.