The waiting’s the worst, in a way.
I’m used to the solitude, for that is the way of writers. No solitude, no writing. But, again, this is different.
Words from others who’ve survived plagues seem to offer some solace now, a morbid preoccupation. And I’m not the only one with this symptom of the times.
Today, I happened upon a list of pandemic literature and films compiled by Colette Bancroft, published in the Tampa Bay Times. Many of the usual suspects (The Andromeda Strain, The Stand, etc.) appeared on the list, but the author included a few new temptations, too, The Old Drift, a debut novel by Namwalli Serpell, about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, as well as Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. Ms. Bancroft left off Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, but overall it was a good solid list, a place to start indulging in pandemic literature.
But somehow reading that list set the tone for the day. And things only stagnated after that.
Attempting to pull myself out of my lethargic mood, I took off on a walk around my neighborhood. It’s an interesting place, my neighborhood. None of the houses look the same. Most were built over 60 years ago. In fact, a coat of paint and a lawn mower would spruce things up a lot. But it’s charming, especially the old live oaks draped with Spanish moss. I saw two guys talking as I walked by the house around the corner – one guy standing on the side of the road, the other guy parked so the driver’s side was a good six feet away from the guy standing, who talked to his friend through the passenger side window. So some people are social distancing!
That pleased me, as not everyone has been doing that, as this picture attests, taken yesterday in Palm Springs, California and published on Facebook:
Frankly, I floundered all day. I ate a lot of brownies, which I’d baked on Day 6. Directionless, I settled down and watch three episodes of “NCIS New Orleans.” Even the kitchen held no charms for me, so when dinnertime rolled around I heated up leftovers.
Around 6 p.m., I decided to check my email and found a message from somebody named Larry. I thought, “I don’t know anybody named Larry.” But I do. Or I did. A high school classmate named Larry sent our whole class a message, which was actually a forwarded message from another classmate stuck somewhere out of the country, with limited email capability:
Hello All, Sincerely wishing you all the best in heath, safety and peace at this precipitious time in our lives. Who would have thought this possible 6 months ago?
Like I am sure all of you, I now have a lot of time on my hands, which gives me pause to think on many things, to which all of you great classmates come to mind, as we all are now considered in the higher vulnerability category for the COVID-19 illness, (including myself). I pray that we come thru this as unscathed as possible, for whatever time it takes, and that we can maintain not only our physical, but our mental and emotional health as well as can be.
I believe we will come thru this, but we will also be likely changed forever. One of the changes I would wish for is greater unity and caring for each other, as we seemed to have lost that attribute, over the past number of years. Perhaps this is God’s wake up call to get it back…. I dunno… just musing.
So if you wish to respond as to your concerns, fears, feelings and thoughts, you may count on me, as a willing, nonjudgmental, and compassionate listener. I hope to be here for others as I face the latter stages of my life, for as long as I can.
Well, that did it, putting the icing on the cake of a very fraught day. I burst into tears, thinking of how we all grew up together and shared so so much. So innocent and so hopeful for a grand and glorious future. [Note: I actually graduated from a high school elsewhere, as – just before my senior year – my father took a job at a university thousands of miles away. Needless to say, it was not a good year for me, that last year of high school. So I went to one of the reunions with my old class, because they really were the people I should have graduated with.]
The sequestering and the solitude are going to initiate a lot of thinking, reflection, and possibly anguish. Uncertainty has a way of doing that.
I’m jumping the timeline here, but hey, I’m writing this after Day 7, so I want to end this rather dismal post with something that came across my feed earlier, possibly counting as being a Day 7 event: The Plagues of Old London, a guest post by historian Gillian Tindall on a superb site for people enthralled by all things London – “Spitalfields Life.”
Stay well. And stay home, if you can.