Define pandemic. Frankly, it is one of those words that rested comfortably and unused in my vocabulary cubbyhole until recently. Yes, an outbreak of disease that affects the whole country or, as in this case, the world, is not something I discussed…or thought about…or wrote about. Honestly, I have never been a fan of science fiction; which is the only other place the use of the word pandemic, that mockingly has more letters than four, might be useful. Basically, it means there is nowhere to run to, no place to hide.
I remember thinking one day nearer to the beginning of this contagion, that this would be a great time to travel. There would be no crowds or lines, and airfare became downright cheap. We could finally make use of all those miles we have been socking away for that trip to Spain. I found it rather harsh when the rest of the world forbid us from entering their countries. Surely, I realized in just a few moments the ridiculousness of my feeble plan, but for those brief moments, I felt anticipative, a feeling I miss pretty desperately about now. I suppose it is that same sentiment that promotes optimism and causes me to instinctively apply lipstick only to be buried behind a mask.
This, however, is not a plea of hopelessness. I don’t know when this nonsense will end, when the new normal will fade into the background and we can go back to old customs, like hugging friends. No one really does, I suppose; unless you believe in one of the conspiracy theories. If so, at this point, I would welcome your analysis of the situation, because as much as I am a homebody by nature; this is getting a little out of control. I won’t even get into the loss of jobs, businesses, and homes, those that are going hungry, the unnecessary deaths, the whole school nightmare, or the rise of anxiety and depression, because I promised when I began this that I would exclude any sort of declaration of desperation or misery. I am sure I, and the rest of the world, will get over that gnawing feeling in my chest when I do venture out into the real world on occasion – my face masked, my eyes shielded, my body wrapped in cellophane. Just kidding, well sort of.
This is actually the way I intend to outfit myself for an upcoming plane trip to New York in a few weeks. It is all part of that positive mode I forcefully endorse daily. Please note the use of the word forcefully, as I carefully chose it. I am trying to be gentle with myself; as we all should, but sometimes it takes a little bit of weight to help us reframe this temporary situation. I keep reminding myself that while stuck in the house, I can work on my next book, paint the baseboards, sort boxes of photos, ride my bike, and so on. I’ve done some new and different things, and others I normally don’t feel I have the time for, and am truly never bored, however; after five months, I am looking forward to my trip to NY even if it means two weeks of quarantine when I get there.
I suppose up until now I couldn’t explain to those that question why I would go to New York in the midst of this mayhem, as though just sitting across from my daughter’s masked face in a park isn’t enough. Then I remembered, that as I booked my flights, that feeling of eagerness that popped up and brought with it its usual cohorts; excitement and anticipation. Just the idea of something new to look forward to, like a change of scenery, has proven to be electrifying. Maybe the whole purpose of this nightmare is to make us all reevaluate the beauty that can be found in solitude or, for me, the thrill of the simplest things, like my daughter’s face, in person, rather than on Facetime – or at least the half above her mask. Of course, there is still the theory that, perhaps, this unmatched seclusion, for me, was meant to expand my vocabulary, because I rarely recall using the word unprecedented very often before either. I mean, it is amazing how these unprecedented times can help put things back into perspective, don’t you think?