It’s April and our yard is sodden and swampy at the base of the hill. The kids ride their bikes down it, splattering mud from their wheels. It was sunny for Easter, but the rain and wind were back yesterday, keeping me awake after midnight with their violent gusts.
Yesterday, I overheard my nine-year-old and her best friend chatting, they’re both younger siblings and happily young for their ages. Their conversation ended in a childlike singsong tone, “Hashstag Covid!”
We’re a month in now and I haven’t baked any bread or donuts or cookies. I haven’t a single browned banana in the house to whip into muffins. In contrast to what I’m watching cycle through in my social media feeds, other than a day of spring cleaning in the basement, or finding joy in a package of better-than-single-ply toilet paper, my home life isn’t much different than it was before.
One small change: I consumed more mindless television pre-corona, perhaps as a coping mechanism for drowning out the relentless buzzing of the speed of life. Now, there’s less and the tv is off and the stillness is setting in.
While the rest of the world seems to have taken the need to accomplish everything like a swift punch to the jaw, I feel…nothing.
I’m watching as if through fogged-over-glass, a world of people navigating the spectrum of unexpected things. Some finding comfort in their kitchens, others in painting, or passion projects. Novels are being written, pregnancies fearfully faced. Mid-pandemic power outages and flooded basements, one friend simply hoping to not feel a dead rat brush her leg as she moves through the water in the dark recesses of her house.
Meanwhile, I’m brewing coffee and wiping last night’s crumbs from the counter with a towel into my palm. I’m picking the soft meat off the bone of our Easter ham and making soup. I’m looking out the kitchen window and thinking it looks like a nice day to disappear into the woods.
I don’t have a passion project. To be honest, I don’t feel an urgency to do much of anything at this moment, except distill.
Asher and Evie and I played Go Fish last night while the older kids zoom called with their youth group. We played it wrong at first, more of a rummy-meets-go-fish, because I’m rusty and fast and loose with the rules. Because, right now, the rigidness of rules feels less important than giggles over gently-warn playing cards spread out between a mother and her children.
Lila and I might do a fun photo project together. Maybe. There’s no rush. We’ve each had an idea or two and would need to piece together outfits and make-up and choose a location. We’ll do it when we want if we want. It’s liberating to disconnect myself completely from doing anything creative for a motivated purpose – to self-promote, to garner praise, to gain clients or a following.
I still feel the longing for the things buried deep in my heart that I am passionate for, or long to hold as a real, complete thing – which reassures me that I’m not actually numb, only processing. And in some ways, I’m processing the things I can never have, #Covid related, or otherwise.
In that way, the most earnest work I’m doing in this time of stillness is turning to the joys that I do have (husband, children, family, friends, community, village, tribe), and reminding myself of them with intention – by sharing meals and burning Christmas trees and broken furniture together, with zoom calls with children doing headstands on the couch watching their grandparents watching them, by sitting on a picnic table beside my husband on a cold Easter morning and watching our breath swirl from our mouths to the sky to the sun rising over the tops of the slumbering city on the horizon.
That sunrise took far longer than I thought it should have. Ten minutes turned to fifteen, turned to twenty. It was light everywhere and we could see glimmers of it shimmering off the dew on the lawn, glinting on the trees, but I wanted to see it all. I wanted the full glory of the glowing orange sun finally announcing herself, breaking the day wide open. At six in the morning, on Easter, in the middle of a worldwide stand-still with nowhere else to be, no church to rush ahead to, no super-organized gathering to attend, there was nothing else to do but be there and wait for it.
Maybe, for me, embracing the rare stillness in the world, and within, is enough for this moment.