Rebecca lane

 

Rebecca Lane  untitled

In what felt like 736th day of quarantine (when in reality it was in the 300 range), after having watched my country crash and burn on a number of accounts:  assertions of election tampering; an astronomical death counts from covid (with no end in sight); vaccine desperation; an attempted coup, far too much snow, teenage daughter; and a not quite toddler daughter  who might as well be named Mayhem;   injuries… I ached  for some sort of normal, for inspiration, peace, and beauty.  It was a hunger that wouldn’t go away.


I don’t pretend to be ignorant of how good we have it.  Good is the wrong word.  But we live on a farm.  We are backed by acres of trees.  There’s chickens for eggs, cows for beef, honeybees for honey.  Goats will be arriving in roughly two months’ time, and it is almost time to tap maple trees for maple syrup season.   My sister and her family  (with four children) live on the same farm, and my parents are right across the road.   So while we are in isolation, we are not alone in our isolation.  We can work from home, take care of the animals, and our daughter attends school via the internet and Zoom.           


For all the sour dough starter, Netflix true crime tv shows, cookie baking, butter churning, knitting your entire family sweaters, quilt making, fishing, sledding down the largest hill, and Tai Chi, eventually, things will get to you.  For all the sweatpants in the world, the no need to wear pants or as you might call it, the Mullet Fashion sense (business on top, party down below), quarantine gets wearing.  


Humans are social creatures. Our very existence is intertwined with touch, and communication To some degree there is an instinct that reaches out (for the most of us).  As infants, we cry for touch.  We learn to smile or frown at each other.  We do not exist in a vacuum.  We smile for reactions.  For communication.  For connection.      We miss each other.  We miss the aggravating person who bagged our groceries.  Handshakes,  parent teacher conferences, cheering at soccer games, the servers at restaurants.   


Face it, no one expected to still be in lock down a year later.  The last “normal” day in my area was March 13, 2020.  Friday the 13th.   Was it foreshadowing?  Who knows.   And it wasn’t even the full day.   I kept our eldest home school that day because her asthma was acting up the day before.  M.  gets sick very quickly, from allergies to Walking Pneumonia in twelve hours.    There was some confusion about the school nurse not giving her access to her inhaler, so I said, you know what, keep her home.  Keep an eye on her.  If something is going around, we’ll wait and see.  I was beginning to think about contingency plans for M. if there was something going around.


I had heard of Covid.  I travelled to Utah that January, when the word was just a blip on the radar screen.   I saw a couple people wearing masks on the way out.  But on the way back (a short four days later) there were more masks, and more distancing.  I wasn’t worried.  It wasn’t where I was. 


March 12th came and our school district superintendent presented a COVID action plan for the school district.   She assured us that school would be open Monday. Unless something changed.


And something did. March 13th, the governor put the entire state under lockdown.  Stipulations applied.  It was just for a couple weeks.  But no school. No church.  No going to work.   No going to the store unless urgent.   Masks must be worn.   Six feet social distancing.  


Like cavemen, we pulled ourselves into our dwellings and watched the world from behind our curtains and window blinds.  It was like the movie The Croods.   Outside was Bad.   Eating out was Bad.     We looked at everyone else as suspects.   Were they following the social distancing rules?  Were they wearing a mask? Why were they out WITH THEIR CHILDREN?  Don’t they know how dangerous that is?  We wanted to have fun.  But fun was dangerous.  Fun could kill you.   


That’s how it started.   It stretched past the two weeks, through the summer, fall and winter.  Friends of mine travelled during Thanksgiving, and later warned their friends on family on Facebook.  “We travelled over the holidays. We got Covid.   Don’t do it.  It’s not worth it.”  Cancel plans for this year, so there can be a next year, was the common slogan put out by the CDC. All the while the American president ignored the death toll that rushed higher and higher like a flooding river. (Once I watched a house travel down a flooded river.  It exploded when it hit the bridge.   I wonder if we have reached that bridge, are we still aiming for explosion?)

  

 Now we are near the one year anniversary, but there is so little to celebrate.


That’s wrong.  I take that back.  It’s like a marathon.   We’ve come a long way.  There’s been things to endure, shin splints, and wrong directions. Clowns alongside the race course trying to pull people off track, fouled Gatorade at refreshment stations.   We’ve made progress.  But the finish line is still a way off, and it’s exhausting.  Pandemic fatigue.    You don’t often look back at how far you’ve come in the middle of a marathon and feel energized. You just look at how far you have left to go, and those who didn’t finish the marathon. 

 

And so many people haven’t made it.   

So.  

Many.

People.

(As of this day 23/2/2021 Over 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the USA alone.) 


My family made the most of it. We live on a farm so opportunities for outside activities are abundant. And for the most part, we were ok. We just hunkered down.  We shoved the sadness, the loneliness, the frustration,  and the new routines into the category of New Normal.   We pushed on.  There were still chores to attend to. Calves were still born.  Cows still broke out of the fence. We kept on because that’s what we had to do.   There’s not much choice really.          

2020 was a dumpster fire.  There’s no way to put it nicely.   The jury is still out on 2021 right now.   It’s all divided into Pre Covid or Post Covid time frames;  Pre Coup attempt/Post Coup attempt.  It all begins to look the same after so long.   

     

   On Valentine’s Day 2021, almost a year later, I  ZOOM-ed into a storytelling event based out of Cork Ireland, and Glasgow Scotland.  


  I approached the day differently.  I had a meeting.  I had an appointment with actual people. I would be showing my face to people.  I had something to do outside of make dinner, and listen to an endless loop of Blippi on Youtube.  I would be seeing people.   I knew they wouldn’t see much of me.  But I wore something besides pajamas. 

 

After some magical mumbo jumbo (join meeting and passcode) I heard voices, saw faces.  Laughing, singing faces.  But more so, I connected again. I was invited to share something.  I was too exhausted to write something, too spent to make up my own verses,  so I relied on the words of others who came before me.  I borrowed “Longing” by Matthew Arnold, and “I Carry Your Heart” by e.e. Cummings and sent them out into the Zoom-verse. 


 I gazed on faces that I knew and loved, soaked up their words and their actions,  and watched others who I had never  seen or heard before.   I gathered up around the virtual campfire, and listened to stories, and songs.  Silent, laughing, or crying, my heart swelled.   It was healing.  A balm for a troubled soul, so isolated from the world of creativity and stories.   Even though there was no real place, it felt like I was home again. I could have been in Michael’s living room or parlour listening, sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea at my side.    


And for the first time in almost a year, I could see smiles again. 


    (C) 2021 Rebecca Lane -