Birdsong and Machinery

Ok here we go. One more week down. We did it. We got through last week.

Now it’s another Monday. I can hear the trash trucks outside. Somehow the trash still gets picked up. I can hear heavy equipment outside. Somehow roadwork is still happening. Somehow people are still working on renovating houses to sell. How is this possible?

How are you? How am I?

My yoga mat is calling and I’ve been ignoring it for days. I’m exhausted from keeping everything together, cleaning, caretaking, and I have my period. These days the anxiety comes in waves for all of the beings in our home. The waves don’t ever come at the right times. There are no right times. The dog leaps up off the couch from sleep to bark at a passerby outside and I can relate. Outside is scary. This is turning me into an agoraphobe, but the yard is calling. I can see from the soft light that it’s going to be a beautiful Spring day. We should spend it outside making everything as beautiful as possible in our shrinking postage stamp existence. We have handmade fabric mask orders piling up from friends and strangers. I have paid work piling up that I cannot make myself do. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe when it rains. Maybe if I feel better. Maybe after lunch.

When I sit at my sewing machine churning out fabric straps and folded cotton masks I feel like an old timey war nurse and it makes me feel useful. I’m turning my old bed sheets into protective gear. I should have thrown these out years ago, but didn’t because I was raised by depression era New English yankees. Everything could be useful. Everything is.

I stare at a framed photograph of my grandfather wearing his red wool sweater and tam o shanter in the snow. I try to channel his practical energy. I picture the newspapers stacked in his library and in my mind I trace my fingers along the sharp paper edges of the enormous dictionary he kept on a shelf beside his desk. Next to it was a dried iridescent blue butterfly under a bell jar. These visions calm me and remind me of all I have survived. Even the loss of that room, those things, and the unquantifiable enormity of the loss of him. I have survived that. I can survive this.

The worst part is the uncertainty.

No, the worst part is feeling trapped.

No, the worst part is the full body fear.

No, the worst part is worrying about my loved ones.

No, the worst part is wondering how we’re going to move forward.

No, the worst part is wondering if nothing important will change and it’ll just happen again.

No, the worst part is seeing everyone suffer so much.

No, the worst part is not knowing when it will end.

It’s all the worst part. It isn’t even that hard for me but it’s still all the worst part. I don’t have to go outside. I think about how I was going to go to nursing school. I’d be a nurse right now. That thought is terrifying. I don’t know how any of you essential workers do this. How do you do it? How can I help?

This isn’t hard but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Outside I can hear birdsong and heavy machinery.

Get up, Emily.

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