As we all try to make sense of this constantly fluid global pandemic, I have been wrestling with my definition of control. As a writer, I take solace in working alone in my own environment and over the last two weeks our Raleigh apartment has doubled as a co-working space, as my husband has chosen to work from home for my health and safety.
The reason for this is quite involved, but in short, at the beginning of the month I was hospitalized for a non-Covid-19 related health issue. From my hospital room we slowly started to see Coronavirus events unfold when the NBA abruptly suspended their season, and from there everything has been a blur of shut downs, death announcements, ill equipped hospital staff and medical supply chain issues, ridiculous WH press conferences, and mandatory stay at home orders.
I’m back home now, recovering and adjusting to our new normal, as everyone else has, with the added concern of my not being in optimal health right now. This realization has put me on a rollercoaster of emotions that somehow catch me at my low point around 4:00am every morning as I worry about my husband, my family in California, what I can and cannot eat, whether or not I can make it to the store, where I’m going to get my next writing assignment, etc, etc.
As a freelance writer, these are particularly distressing times, but I also feel tremendous pangs of guilt in typing the word “distressed” as I think of the already overworked nurses who were sweet enough to send me a get well card last week, worrying about how they are managing now. Distressed doesn’t adequately describe the cashiers at my local co-op who come into contact with countless people every day, not knowing if one of them may get them sick. I think of the delivery people, the restaurant workers, and countless others who have to literally adjust and readjust to changes every day, wondering if their jobs are secure, while so many are now filing for unemployment after being laid off.
All of these thoughts have not left me with much emotional bandwidth for writing, despite the urgent desire to do so. I have largely felt numb by all of this. So many of us, including dear friends and family have retreated into the bubbles of our lives, struggling to “figure it all out” with kids, jobs, restricted freedoms, and a lack of control that has left us feeling unmoored and unconnected.
Despite this, there have been moments created out of pure serendipity that brought communities together, even if for a few minutes of dancing. Without a doubt, one of the most important keys to my own well-being have been D-Nice’s “Homeschool” DJ sets, affectionately known as “Club Quarantine”. I started tuning into them last Friday and by Saturday night, he managed to capture lightening in a bottle as hundreds of thousands of people came together on Instagram live to dance out their troubles–together. By now, numerous think pieces have been written about this cultural moment that was created in the midst of a pandemic, but all I can say is that I was happy to have been there, dancing in my kitchen with so many people that were all coming together in a spirit of positivity and love. I’m waiting for a t-shirt to commemorate the day. 🙂
I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. Art heals. I’ve turned to Instagram these days taking the opportunity to share important resources and admire new work being created now like Michael G. Young’s incredible Life During Covid-19 photography series. I’m also sharing some images of works for Women’s History Month from shows I was able to see before museums and galleries temporarily closed. I have to say, I’m enjoying how some museums are leveraging their platforms to virtually share exhibitions. There are thousands to chose from, but my current favorite is the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Instagram presentation of Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door. They are doing an exceptional job of presenting the story behind their special relationship through daily posts that explore the artist and his muse’s backgrounds, along with images and artwork that complement the text.
Throughout all of this one of the most surprising things has been the support and love that I’ve received from so many people who I’ve only interacted with via Social Media. They have reached out, checked in, shared a laugh and shared their fears while making me feel a little less alone out here during all of this. It’s an important reminder that while we’re isolated, we are far from disconnected. Try to laugh every day, get some fresh air, dance a little, reach out to someone, and be well.
I wish you all health and peace.