Plague Diary: July 8, 2020

Plague Diaries

Pandemic time is a thing, a psychological truism, a meme, a joke passed among friends. Remember March, all two-thousand years ago? Remember this morning, which feels like it happened last week? Remember January, when everybody was mostly just talking about the primary, and I freaking out about closing on a house, and thinking forward, as I always do, every year to summer—everything is better in the summer. Remember back then? A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away?

It feels forever ago, but it also feels like stasis. Like I paddled into an eddy on March 11 and I haven’t been able to work my way out since then. I can tell that time has passed because my hair is longer and I no longer have any polish on my toenails. I can tell that time has passed because when this started, the view of the pond from my office windows was mostly unobstructed, and now it’s a dense thicket of green. I can tell that time has passed because it’s been a minute or two since air conditioning became my nearly full-time natural habitat. But the typical measures by which I gauge time’s passing (I’ve never liked watches or clocks) tend to revolve around Where I’m Going and Where I’m Going is Nowhere. Or at least Nowhere particularly fast.

Back at the beginning of this thing, I spent most of the days just trying to power on so I could crawl into bed at night and mark another day off. This was depressing as hell for a person that doesn’t much like going to sleep. And the dreams were weird. The dreams are still weird. Mostly they’re about traveling—by train, by car, by plane. In my dreams, I go to the beach. I go to New York. I go to Europe. I go to Mexico. Last night, I went through rural Texas with a strange man I was evidently married to, the two of us playacting a documentary about a former cult leader turned musician (him) and the journalist telling his story (me). Then I ended up in Charleston, South Carolina in a rainstorm in a crowd of people and woke in a sweat when I realized I didn’t have a mask.

The popular opinion is that we’re supposed to live in the present and enjoy each moment as if it’s our last. But the former kind of sucks and the latter rates somewhere between “extremely bad idea” to “you are literally killing people.” I try to avoid the past, which is a challenge. Radical acceptance of the current situation and all. I like the past, and not only because I’m inclined toward both history and storytelling. I could wallow there forever, mourning the passing of some personal, mythical golden age that was actually pretty crappy only sparkles little in some cheap glitter hindsight. Maybe I’d be one of those people you feel sorry for because they can’t stop talking about how good it was when they were twenty -five (actually not my experience). Maybe I’d go full Preservation mode, take up petit-point or crewelwork, learn to make out the handwriting in old family letters. I don’t think there’s a danger of me going full-reactionary, but you never know. I could start prattling on about the Founding Fathers. I could join the D.A.R.

Hopefully Trump gets ousted in the election. That will help with the future. Hopefully a season of protest with lead to a season of transformative change. Hopefully I will get to travel to Europe again in my lifetime, or see live theater, or go to a concert, or kiss someone I might be falling in love with at the edge of a crowd on a noisy summer night, but be careful with even a whiff of hope because, like, 2020, am I right?

What day is it again? What month? Is it 5’oclock yet? Cool. I have gin and tomorrow is only seven hours away.

Picture today is of me, late afternoon on the 4th of July, standing an almost unpleasantly warm Haw River. (Mask in dress pocket, ps, because I was afraid I would drop it in the water)

As of this writing, 7,003,748 people have recovered from COVID-19

The Author

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