It’s starting to resemble the New Years Eve top ten list that used to be required from every publication on December 31. We’ve been in a global pandemic for a year, and the list of things that have changed is different for everyone. From what I’ve observed in Culver City, among the people I know, it’s all the way from ‘no major repercussions’ to ‘every aspect of life utterly changed.’
Activity is still severely limited, but worse, thinking seems to be curtailed as well.
For me, I have to confess that I began writing this essay last week, and then interrupted myself to read some half a dozen different articles about how the pandemic has caused a ‘cognitive impairment.’ We are all just slower, and a bit more challenged to find the right words.
The neurological effect of chronic stress accompanied by long term boredom is one that just can’t not be noticed. (See what happened there? What kinda sentence is that even?)
As someone who was already working from home, I got to joke with friends (over the phone and online) about how great it was. The commute is fabulous! Shoes are not required! Take a lunch break whenever you like! Time spent at work does not need to start at nine and end at five. There are so many benefits.
But my office got a lot more crowded, with two college students and a high schooler all needing different schedules and the “I need quiet I’m on a zoom call” notices from each of us rotating from eight in the morning until ten at night: later if its City Council or Conversational Japanese.
I have considered opening a new Twitter handle,”Help Me I’m in Quarantine with Three Teenagers” but there’s a limit to how amusing it is to point out the wet towels left in the bathroom post shower or making a great meal and destroying the kitchen. And no one needs to have their parents posting their flaws online.
I don’t think my lack of vocabulary is caused by conversations dominated by quotes from Family Guy and Borat. The edge of everything seems sanded to a curve.
My thousand square foot house has come to feel like another set of clothes I never get to remove. Even while reading, writing, sketching, cooking, there is a sense of slowness; roller skating across hot tar, swimming through sludge, dancing in shackles. Movement, but not quite what I had in mind.
A year ago, a friend made the comment “It’s like Mother Nature said “you go to your room and just think about what you’ve done.” So – we’ve been thinking. Or just trying to think. Or just understanding that thinking is hard right now.
As I plan my older daughter’s second pandemic birthday, budgetary concerns mean we can have dinner or cake; they all voted for cake. (At Christmas, we had to choose between dinner and presents. We all chose dinner; there were no regrets.)
Because a celebration will make us feel better. Hope is on the horizon.
So, happy anniversary. I hope your budget can include dinner and cake and presents. Watch some live music. Find a new game. Take a long, long walk. Look up your vaccine status again. Celebrate something, hopefully, with some people you love. Know that our next anniversary will be better.
Judith Martin Straw