COVID is still not over, and that is causing identity-bending anxiety within me and just plain ole panic masked as normalcy around me. I happen to live in a northeastern suburb that is really just an outpost for international students, out of town yuppies, and pet parents on their way to somewhere else. No one is from here and no one truly lives here. The neighborhood itself came up just decades ago, and it once was a swampy throughway for highway robbers and bandits. Now there are high rises and glass buildings without souls. There’s a church over a gas station and you have to walk a mile to the nearest Dunkin Donuts. It is a neighborhood with no neighbors, maybe co-workers and classmates, but there are no true friends around here. And in this time of hatred and havoc, it feels like absolutely nothing is happening. The country isn’t burning, looting isn’t a thing, nobody is sick, and the Starbucks is still open.
Sometimes I look at the chatty crowds at the Biergarten and I wonder if they know there’s a pandemic outside that no one is safe from. It has been going on entirely too long for them to NOT know, but either they must think they’re immune (they won’t die) or that they are invincible (they can’t die). And I can only think of what a privilege that is.
In my skin, in my gender, in my family, I live with doubt and fear. I am always worried – about my husband and my kids. I fear they may not come home, and now more than ever I have every reason to be. This level of anxiety doesn’t get cured with deep breaths and alone time. In fact, this year has taught me that there is such a thing as too much introspection. Introversion and seclusion usually go together in my world, but it can also create an echo chamber for my worst fears.
The more this pandemic rages on and touches people I know, and wipes out whole families, I’m feeling inspired by the fearless people who live in my neighborhood. What I wouldn’t give to live like the young man who switches between his Maserati and G Wagon regularly, paying for on-street parking and never once wearing a mask. Fearless, that guy. I am truly in awe of the amount of money and privilege that it takes to be that oblivious and to stay alive. And I’m sure the guy has cares and worries, right? Like, will someone dent the white Mercedes when parallel parking at the sweetgreen?
Now, I’m just rambling. In short, this thing has gone on too long. I’m going to need to stop seeing ya’ll live your best lives, like nothing is happening. Not only am I getting slightly jealous, but I’m also scared shitless that I’m going to catch the COVID in an elevator. The less you do, the less I have to worry. I actually breathe a sigh of relief when I wake up to see this dude’s truck parked in the same place as the night before – no exposure for the last 10 hours! Herd immunity, hear we come.
This whole thing is a marathon, not a sprint. The mentality of survival is not easy to acquire or maintain. People start turning on each other. Some of us are living like today is our last, while others are doing the same by courting trouble. How do we get to a place where the fragility of life feels real, without being paralyzed? Better yet, when will freedom of movement stop feeling like just enough rope to hang ourselves with?
All I know is that this pandemic has lasted entirely too long, because we won’t just sit the whole f*ck down. So, instead I worry, keep my babies inside, and try not to breathe the air. Let’s see how long that’ll last…