“Surreal” is the starting point — to observe the feeling of being in two realities at any one moment and to vacillate between them, being of two minds. Parallel worlds: one where nothing is happening, living a small and meaningful life in my lovely flat, helping (one hopes) others through my own work, joining friends virtually on the many ethernet platforms, all of which contribute to a sense of science fictional otherworldliness (does this person really exist or is this something created by artificial intelligence, or my own fevered imagination?). And in this small life there is some human, non-virtual contact: my sons come for dinner and it is quietly delicious; I see the guy who hands out hand-sanitizer and gloves at the door of the grocery store — sometimes one guy (the careful, polite guy who pays attention), sometimes the other guy (the one who lets in everyone pell-mell until there are too many in the store); small sorties — picnics in the park, a no-touch salsa lesson with someone I barely know, but might want to. How strange that it is with them that I spend my time and not, for the most part, with those I love!
But then, there is the other reality, what one reads in the newspapers about different global reactions to the pandemic: real news, skewed news and utterly fake news. New news that the virus behaves one way turns out to be anecdotal and vanishes. A learned response is now to wait until any news persists past a certain number of news cycles to see if it is true. Focusing only on the pandemic news: we question its transmission (airborne or droplet or both?), its longevity (which varies widely depending on the surface, the temperature, the humidity… the day of the week?), its prime targets (oldsters, most definitely. People with underlying conditions, also. Kids? Maybe yes, maybe no: They’re not getting it, they’re getting something else — maybe related. They’re not good “spreaders”, oops, they are getting it, they are “good spreaders”), treatments (idiotic, plausible, uncertain), risks of transmitting it, precautions to take (are they even working? Masks/no masks), and on into the murky waters of deep uncertainty. My ability to think critically seems like a useless tool, my “gut feelings” play tug-of-war with beliefs and needs, my intuition feels like a child that has spun until she falls on the ground.
The only way out is through. My humanity is seeking touch, intimacy, security. How is your humanity weathering this storm? I am pretending that the world will continue as it was. I’m making plans for the winter and spring as if they will be like any other walking arm in arm with someone, temperature dropping then slowly rising again as the light returns to our skies, snow melting, buds blushing and opening, work and school returning in their set pattern. But I realize I need to be ready to let go of those plans in a heartbeat, if necessary. In the meantime, I am respecting the government guidelines and doing my part to keep myself, and my brethren and sistren, safe and healthy. As an adult, I should be able to embrace the ambiguity of delaying gratification for my needs for physical comfort without denying that they are needs (for me and for all). May you all stay safe and healthy in body and spirit.