It’s the thing that’s everywhere, the thing that no one can stop talking about or writing about or worrying about. It’s one of the only times in human history we are all experiencing the same thing.
It is and it isn’t.
For someone who has experienced a lifetime of panic attacks, I’ve felt oddly calm these last few weeks. In a life full of everyday anxiety over scenarios that no one else would ever worry about, my mind is mostly quiet.
When I wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night my brain is not going a million miles a minute. I’m enjoying the feeling of my cozy, warm bed, the smell of the comforter and the soft pillows. I’m smiling at my sleeping dog, whose paws are twitching in his sleep as he dreams about chasing birds or running free in the forest. I’m listening to the rain tap against the windows and the thunder rumbling in the distance. I’m thinking about my writing projects and what I want to accomplish with all this extra free time. I’m concentrating on the various songs being sung by the birds in the trees, telling us that spring and rebirth is still on its way.
I have my moments, of course. Wondering if and when I’m going to be able to get food or prescriptions. Having dreams about empty grocery store shelves. Crying over Facebook posts about a local florist delivering their leftover flowers to local cemeteries and memorial markers. Being angry at people for judging other people. Feeling guilty for going to the drug store for makeup. Worrying about my mom, a transplant patient with a compromised immune system, and my dad, a sixty-two year old still working two jobs.
But there’s still so much good.
I’m still working full time, as my job falls into the “transportation/wholesale” category deemed “essential” by Pennsylvania’s governor, and for this I am exceptionally grateful. I don’t want to deal with unemployment, and even though I wasn’t even sure I still wanted this job a few months ago, it’s good to feel useful and at least I’m getting out of the house everyday. My husband, who works on the receiving dock at a local hospital, is also still working full time, and I’m so thankful that neither one of us has to worry about lost wages.
In the last few weeks I’ve written 25,000 more words in my novel that I’m rebuilding since my USB crashed in January. This means that I’m 1/3 of the way through the manuscript, so I’m optimistic about finishing in the next month or so and looking forward to seeking beta readers and querying agents.
I’m not fretting over meal planning or rushing off in 100 different directions every day for errands, appointments, or social gatherings. I don’t have to hurry to fit household chores and fun into a limited amount of time during evenings and weekends.
My husband and I have been watching comedic movies, TV shows, and YouTube channels, and playing round after round of darts in our basement. I kicked his ass twice in a row this last time.
But I miss swimming. I miss my aqua Zumba class. I had just started getting back into the routine of exercising regularly and now I’m waylaid again.
I miss visiting the library, with its hundred year old squeaking floors, beautiful architecture, and the scent of old papers. I miss the anticipation of opening a new book and the possibilities inside the pages.
Luckily I checked out four novels the week before our facilities closed, but I’m already halfway through the stack so it’s looking like I’m going to have to revisit some old stories that have been on my shelves for years. Maybe another round with Harry Potter or Gregory Maguire is in order.
I also recently won a Goodreads giveaway and was mailed a copy of Betty Smith’s (author of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn) Tomorrow Will Be Better. I loved all of Ms. Smith’s classic novels and can’t help but think that the title of this one is a sign of hope and some encouragement from the universe.
I’m only watching snippets of the news. I understand the importance of staying informed, but as soon as I start to get scared or overwhelmed, I shut it off and turn my attention to something positive or fun. Maintaining my mental health right now is a top priority.
Sometimes I think about our plans to visit the Outer Banks in early May, and I still don’t know how to feel about that yet. We don’t know if we’re going to get to go at all, and although I crave the stretch of pristine beaches every day of the year, I understand that we might just have to postpone things this time around. Hopefully when we do get to visit, the trip will be that much sweeter.
That’s all I have for now. I’m off to face the masses at the grocery store. My plans for this weekend include shopping online for underwear, vacuuming, and cleaning out my closet. Oh and doing lots of reading and writing.
Stay safe, my online friends.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” The Shawshank Redemption