Living alone, keeping clean what I want to keep clean, having it stay that way, nagging no one, requesting nothing, cooking for myself without others feeling guilty that they don’t want my food, controlling my space, it being my own space, letting my fits of temper seize me, harm none but me, letting them pass when they pass–unobserved, or perhaps recorded in a letter, a journal–but not watched by anxious bystanders whose anxiety lasts far longer than my tempests do.
Living in a small town, with my mother–at last, after years of living half a country a part. Living within walking–or driving–distance of friends. Seeing friends. Eating at restaurants. Eating outside. Walking around without masks. Smiling at people and meaning it. Thinking of people as uninfected, as people not super-spreaders. Thinking of myself as uninfected, as generally friendly and non-lethal, as capable of eye-contact.
Going to libraries. Going to libraries for hours. Reading inside in public spaces for hours. Reading in parks for hours. Going to a cafe, drinking something hot without a mask. Wandering a cityscape, a public park, without a mask. Going hiking and not having to stop every five minutes because heavy breathing from exertion feels like a panic attack inside a mask.
Having a party. Hosting and throwing a party. Not often, just once a month or so. Cooking for a large group of people and letting them enjoy the party. Doing the dishes in the kitchen, sort of away from the party but enjoying the party. One-on-one conversations with random party friends in the kitchen, how they swap in and out, in and out, how everyone wants to help, until the party is in the kitchen, and I laugh and throw them out of the kitchen by agreeing to join the party for a little while.
Visiting family. Saving some money, buying a plane ticket, visiting family. Visiting family for holidays, for special events, because I’m worried about them, because I miss them, just because. Just to see them. Just to see them.
Going to work. Taking a long train ride to another state. Getting up before dawn and taking the subway to the Amtrak and the Amtrak to Connecticut, and walking that morning walk in sun or rain or snow, and going into the studio and recording books for strangers, and staying in a BNB, and visiting friends I hardly ever get to see, and recording, and narrating, and being an actor, and talking to myself alone for hours in a little black box, and being paid for it, and then coming home, feeling I’ve earned my keep. Earning my own way. As an actor.
Going to the theatre. Singing with people. Singing out loud, in public, without worrying. Going to concerts. Going to readings. Going to conventions. Going to writing groups. Going anywhere with people, people making art. An adventure outside the house, with people. Perhaps bringing them a pie, or flowers, or something, and eating what they cook for me, and playing games at their tables.
Going grocery shopping without that clock ticking in my head, without buckets of hand sanitizer, and soap and water, and constantly remembering to clean my masks, hanging them to dry on the back of the fan. Sending a roommate off to the beach with friends without worrying, without making her promise to distance, to wear her mask, to take care, take care, take care of all of us as she goes out to the beach with friends.
Going to the beach. Living in a town that’s biking distance from a beach. That’s walking distance from a bookstore, from a library, from a park. Living in a place I love without constantly trying to love it, without having to remind myself to breathe and enjoy and count blessings and appreciate and look at the trees, the trees, at least you have trees, and you’re here, it’s an island, didn’t you always want to live on an island, and you’re really happy, aren’t you, you’ll look back on these days one day and you’ll want them back, you’ll mourn the loss of this, this, right now, this thing you’re mourning now, and…
And anyway. It’s just sometimes I remember it’s not just little irritations, or small inconveniences. It’s a nation–a world–mourning large changes, and they manifest domestically in dozens of small, small ways, and individually they’re nothing; they’re fine; they’re bearable; life is good. But collectively, sometimes it’s like there’s this pillar of ash and fire where my lungs should be, and even having it pretty good, and feeling safe, is its own guilt, when so many are suffering.
And I guess the answer to that is action. It’s always action. Whether in the form of a larger activism or a smaller kind of outreach. Do something, instead of sinking and dwelling where I sink.
So. That’s all, really.