Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ponderings in a Time of Quarantine

Hello, Invisible Audience,

I am writing you from the comfort of my kitchen table, with a cup of coffee by my side and a fully stocked fridge in the kitchen.

I am so, so lucky.

I am lucky because, despite the fact that 75% of my income disappeared overnight when I shut down my group Spanish classes, I still have a place to live, food to eat and savings -- for the short term, anyway. I am lucky because I never completely gave up on my freelance writing, which is a mostly online gig, and I can continue to do it.

Every day I wake up and I feel how lucky I am. There are people out there out of work. There are people out there scrambling to find work, because they have no idea how they’ll pay for the food they need in the ransacked grocery stores. There are people out there that still have to go to work, despite the danger of contracting something that may not just hurt them, but their families, too. There are people out there whose jobs now continue from home, even as their kids call for their attention and assurances, while their bosses expect them to carry on as if nothing has happened.

It is from this place, where I feel lucky, that I sit and look at the economy and society reeling around me, and I wonder if now is the time.

Many people have said they didn’t see this coming. I may not have seen this specific thing coming, but I certainly felt something coming. A feeling that the current system was unsustainable; that our booming economy was operating in an unsustainable way. 

Why did I think that?
·     Because the only way to get really great health insurance is by working, which seems to be an oxymoron. If you’re sick, how can you work to pay your premiums?
·     Because statistics say that 60% of U.S. households don’t have enough savings for a $500 emergency.
·     Because of the local taxi driver who picked me up, who works seven days a week to support his family and keep a roof over his head because rent is so high. That taxi driver had to give away all his pets to be eligible for that rental at all.
·     Because few of the people we currently depend on to stock our groceries and run other essential services at this time can afford to live in the town I work in because rents and home prices are so astronomically high.
·     Because when I needed to move in January, my choices were a hovel over a garage that reeked of gasoline and oil for $1200 a month, or a much cheaper and more amazing alternative 20 miles out of town.

I feel lucky because I chose the cheaper location outside of town, which was available to me because I’m friends with the owners, a privilege I don't take for granted. I feel lucky because that choice for cheaper and farther away means I’m now in a much better place for this crisis than I would have been even three months ago.

At the same time, I am realizing how unsustainable my own life was, now that it has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time. I am not restless and overcome with energy, cleaning my house and power lifting boulders to keep myself in shape. I am taking more naps, handling things that have been on my plate for months, and taking more walks without music, where I can listen to the leaves in the trees and notice the smell of spring coming. 

I had already felt myself grinding to a halt before all this hit, Invisible Audience. Now, I am grateful for the lack of frantic activity. I am wondering how I did it for so long. I am wondering if I want to have it again. And most of all, I am wondering why it’s so necessary.

If life is built on the idea that one must hustle and pound pavement and go full speed, of course it will collapse when we all have to stay home. But I find myself curiously watching my own reaction, and wondering at the parts of life that are trying to continue as if nothing has changed. 


I don’t know how long this will last, but I am already seeing that am different now. Things will not remain the same for me. I am suddenly clearer on how little I was able to find myself in the frantic pace I was trying to keep up before this. I may choose not to do that anymore, Invisible Audience. I may come out of this forced but not unwelcome isolation and realize that it’s time to make changes to my life so it doesn’t require me to be part of the rat race. 
It’s not that change is coming. Change is here.

Love and socially isolating and changing kisses