California Dreaming on Such a Winter’s Day

An essential worker. My beautiful son Brandon. Please include him in your prayers. Olympia, Washington, U.S.A, 2020

March 28, 2020

I woke up this morning wanting to make a long list. Facts and findings about the world health pandemic. But even lists seem inappropriate in these times. Day twenty of not leaving home. Winded and short of breath. Propped up in bed for the long haul. Turmeric water. Ginger tea. Tea tree oil. Hot shower. The sound of my dog Violet scampering. Thankful for the little things. Random text messages. A friend sends a photo of Brandon. I rush to share it here. Is that okay? I wonder.

Pandora set to the Bread station. California dreaming on such a winter’s day. Waves of grief. Rushing water: the deep suffering. Drowning, riptide, complex-whimpers. Business owners, healthcare workers, homeless, over populated cities and suburbs, the division between the haves and have nots. Mind underwater. Deep sorrow. Thankful I am. For my computer, its aging keyboard, the pounded letters, E, S, D, and N, unrecognizable. 1000s of pages rendered. Reliable soldiers, they be. Thankful for words, their rhythm, predictability. The way syllables form reality. The soothing sound of silence, as the words wait backstage for curtain call. Gratitude for the many in my life’s circle, who recognize there is no need to list things to be thankful for. There is no need to do or be, in any way. Only to be where we can, how we can, who we are. God only knows what I’d be without you . . .

Thoughts of false-negative test results and the lack of adequate testing procedures. Millions of citizens around the globe. Have I contracted the virus that causes COVID-19? I keep visualizing the uncomfortable nose swab administered by a doctor who had never tested anyone before; and how I felt guilty, being the only person in the clinic who had an adequate face mask. How the weeks past, hours drifting into days. Is it Saturday? Twenty days since initial symptoms manifested: low grade fever, pressure in chest, dry cough, extreme weakness and fatigue, digestive issues, shortness of breath. Extreme chest pressure is dissipating, comes and goes less frequently. Thankful.

I manage to make the bed and do some dishes. Clean sheets. Too tired to carry dirty ones to washer. Enough laundry detergent for awhile. Even routine seems irrelevant. Reflecting on last night. Our first venture in weeks: Ordering takeout food. Pizza.

I’d prepped David. Regardless, he brought the pizza boxes into the house. I panicked. David leaves the seen in a huff. He’s had enough of me. I move quickly. Snatch the pizza slices from the (contaminated) boxes and toss on cookie sheets. How has it come to pass that even a pizza box is a threat? Hands washed. Banging pans. 175 degrees–10 degrees higher than recommended. Just in case. Hands washed. Wipe down counters. Giving thanks to sanitizing wipes. Hands washed. Pull David back into the main house. Stop myself from self-shaming. The rush of the world comes again.

Sitting in family room. Moving through the television channels. Movie after movie selection and nothing seems appropriate. The film 1917 seems too depressing. Knives Out? We’d already seen it. My middle son Andrew drifts down the hallway. Makes a semi-joke. We smile, I think. Fears of exposing us, follow him, as he trails up the stairs. I glance at David. Still in a daze. Still befuddled from my outcry. My arms above my wrists hurt. Dry, brittle, aged. Lotion needed. Thoughts of soaps. Since when did soap become a precious commodity?

Bite of my pizza. 5 out of 10 on the scale of something. Thankful. I don’t worry about the onions, for once. David and I aren’t kissing. We settle on Lady Bird. Fortunate to have live streaming. I’ve seen the film before. Before, when the world was different. The film depicts moving images of Sacramento, California. My college town. Where I birthed my first born son. The bridges, the roads, the iconic Tower Theater. I was there, at Tower, on my first date with my former husband. And that house, in the fabulous forties, I am 99% sure that’s the place I nannied in. So long ago, before the owner died of a brain tumor. In that house. In the house on the screen. I don’t explain to David the significance, only fumble with the remote, unable to find where we’d left off in the film. We move upstairs. The remote is more dependable there. I picture my friend Lynn Rose. Somewhere she sits in her house located near the rose garden in Sacramento. My eldest son stood in that garden for the first time on his own. His first birthday. Lady Bird was a decent decision. The perfect mix of suffering and dark humor.

These days everything seems memorable, important, significant. These days, even the slightest of luxuries seems a blessing.

Last night David fell asleep long before me. Exhausted from his week of counseling and pastoring. I tracked his vibration of respiratory structures. I sat awake. Ritual of perusing news article after article. I’ve learned which news reporters create fear mongering titles to trap more readers, learned which keep updating their stories with one short paragraph, to keep their top position in the newsfeed rankings. The patterns are there. The competitiveness makes me ill to my stomach. I read, frustrated by news of the celebrities’ mild ailments. I hear the echoes of David’s words. What about the unknown Joe Blow plumber? Who decides who is news worthy? Who decides what is important? We do.

End

“I long to be held, as the nearby one turned into union, enveloped in a space of adoration, chosen, given and returned to the whole from which I came. Released into captivity, back to the cornerstone of faith, before reason and inquiry established doubt. I can no longer stand on the platform broached, the planet that holds and teaches to rise again and again with each coming fall. I can only drift, the lost traveler found, and stand face-to-face with her own homecoming. I am essentially alone, battling my way across a field of war with no soldiers, no weapons, and only the sound of the horn. And yet I am the horn. I am the sound carried through the empty space of nothing, and I am the ear in which the sound follows: a tail of faithful foe twirling round in loyalty—the hound come back to master.”  August 26, 2014, Belly of a Star

“I feel fear. I sense fear. I recognize fear. And in moments of temporary illusion, I too become this fear. I am unable to be within the scope of this land without repercussion to my very soul. For I know all at once so many truths and deceptions, that to mediate with the opposing forming thoughts in my own mind becomes a task requiring abundance of energy. To release the thoughts, is at times, the only means of escape. For as burs from the open fields, thoughts collect upon me, torturing me with the tearing open of wound after wound.” November 15, 2014, Belly of a Star, Thoughts this Morning

 

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