Pandemic Diary 12: Love and Light

Kindness is always available, of course, but snark, innuendo, and rumor are the only currencies in the economy of dread that quarantine offers us.

* * * *
An April shower lashes the northeast today; my window faces the southeast, so it feels like my desk is ringside at a boxing match. It is a day-long storm with an angry wind that is noisy even without tree branches or loose eaves to whistle through. After three weeks of quarantine, this can feel like a quarantine inside a quarantine, twenty-three hours of solitary confinement with sixty minutes alone added just for today.

Some days in quarantine, the repetition of minor tasks and details is relentless, and then the relentlessness is its own unforgiving detail. Days like today, with the gusty threat of a power—and internet—outage, which might on any other April 13 carry a “day off from school” relief, instead add foreboding to the limited palette of anxious dread.

Thus, the glimpses of light when they come are more brilliant and meaningful if one allows oneself to perceive them.

An online exchange without sarcasm. Anonymous people with offers of courtesy and condolences. Tiny bits of social interaction can be moments of light in the gray of a mid-April shower. These ought to always be bigger deals than they are in normal life (perhaps they always are for you; I may be typing for my own hearing here), but they are light in the relentless gray because they are today’s examples of kindness.

Kindness is always available, of course, but snark, innuendo, and rumor are the only currencies in the economy of dread that quarantine offers us.

So many celebrities have posted fun, funny, and even musical messages from inside their homes that these messages have their own rhetoric: the celebrity invites us into their home and we meet their pets (Neil Sedaka has a room-sized birdcage! Yes, I’ve given my age away!) and they do what they do best: entertain. I admit that I enjoy many of these, and I have heard many friends state that they have come to prefer the late-night talk shows from inside the hosts homes.

One wrote this morning on Twitter that today, the start of a third week with an extension under consideration, felt like it was too much. I replied that my friends and I tell each other all the time that it is okay to not be okay but that to read it from a celebrity made it a little more endurable. The celebrity wrote a longish note back about anxiety, about how important it is to share that it can be a struggle, and wished me well. A tiny exchange, truly, but a little bit of light.

It is okay to not be okay, to not feel like a failure because my room does not look as chicly messy as some famous actors’ rooms (mine is simply book-cluttered), to not feel a failure because I am not producing gallons of lemonade from this month-long lemon. To admit that some days feel different from others in Quarantine Land for the simple reason that each day in quarantine is identical (some of them have been dread-filled when it is sunny outside, and some bright when it is cloudy), is the moment one can feel less self-absorbed and more neighborly: toward a random online celebrity, and, this is more important, toward my actual neighbors.

Connection is always where the light is, but the firm of Snark, Rumor, and Innuendo only sells blackout curtains.

The WordPress Daily Prompt for April 12 asks us to reflect on the word, “Light.”

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One comment

  1. My little corner · April 13, 2020

    And may we discover in this time of seeming disconnection that connection, that your neighbor, is what is deeply true and deeply important.

    Liked by 1 person

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