Let's get the cliché out of the way now: It's been a long year. Like, a really long year. As someone who is very comfortable at home, man was lockdown hard. About midway through it, I found myself restless and irritable and certain that nothing was never going to change. Anxiety attacks were making a more consistent appearance in my days. When I talked about it with my therapist, she asked me what I did throughout a typical year. After thinking about it for a minute, I said that I normally went on several domestic and one or two international vacations a year. In that time, I typically had a lot of revelations about myself and wrote a lot. So, in that light, the anxiety isn't fear so much as is claustrophobia. For the last year and a half, I've been trying to shed my skin but haven't had the room. Now, though, as the world begins to open to vaccinated people, it feels like it might be time to molt.
A lot can be said for living with your landlord. My landlords care a lot about their property, but they also care a lot about me. That much is evident in the upstairs bathroom’s new herringbone tile, fresh baseboards, newly installed wall heater, and drafts that have been filled and sanded smoothed. The kitchen has a new sink, updated plumbing, garbage disposal, recessed lighting. The first-floor’s black ceiling has been painted white, transforming the space from man cave to coffeehouse. When we find some tall enough bar stools, we’ll have to start saving for an industrial espresso machine. Not that you gotta twist my arm about that.
I need to write something. It needs to be 500 words. It needs to be posted today. At first, I was going to post a poem because I have lots of poems stored in the archives, but then I decided that would be cheating. So, here we are at the edge of burnout. This week marks one year in quarantine. One year of sitting in my bedroom, day after day: wake up, walk the dog, work, eat, work, walk the dog, work, walk the dog, eat, scroll, sleep. Intersperse that with some major dissociative episodes kicked off by mindlessly checking social media, and you’ll have a good idea of what this pandemic has looked like for me. It’s probably been the same for you, too. Or maybe you’re one of those people who had the personal strength to get super into CrossFit and cut carbs out of your diet for good. If you are one of those people, good for you. I am not.
Last year I ended things by asking 2020 to be gentler with all of us. I read that this morning and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I laughed until my sides hurt. I laughed until tears streamed down my cheeks. I laughed until I started coughing. I stopped laughing because many of my family members are sick right now, but I'm not. A lot of my friends are out of work right now, but I'm not. A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, but I'm not. There's a lot that I have to be grateful for right now. At the same time, I know that it is unhealthy to force myself into an optimistic mindset just because of my fortunate circumstances. And because this blog is based in truth, I have to tell you that I'm tired. No, I'm weary.
I’ve resolved to be more prolific, like the old days when writing every day wasn’t such a chore. Hard to say what that looks like, but I think sticking to some sort of posting schedule is probably the way to go. This year has been hard in more ways than one and getting myself to work has sometimes been impossible. Despite what my therapist says, I don’t want to use the pandemic as an excuse to not write. 2020 will not crush me, I won’t allow it.
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.