Photo by cheng feng on Unsplash

Yesterday was a Rough Day

Should I feel bad using a title like that?

So many people have had rougher days as of late. That’s one of the funny things about the pandemic. We’re all miserable, but we also feel guilty about being miserable, because there are other people who are further up on the misfortune scale.

Person 1: “I can’t go to the movie theater!”

Person 2: “I lost my job.”

Person 3: “My brother died.”

Person 4: “I got COVID and I’m literally dead right now. Please don’t ask me how I’m typing this. Dead people do not have to answer your questions.”

I’m lucky. I’m really, really lucky in the grand scheme of things. I’m not someone who should be woe-is-me-ing, because I have stable housing and so far all of my family members (especially the older ones) have managed to dodge the virus. Some of my friends have gotten sick, but they’ve fought it off. I’m youngish and I don’t have any serious health issues. I don’t have kids, so I don’t have to juggle the nightmare of online schooling, which is good, because I’m a terrible juggler. I’d never make it into clown school.

I’m also temperamentally better suited to a pandemic than most. I’m extremely introverted and went days at a time without leaving the apartment before that was a thing we were supposed to do. I can disappear for hours writing or drawing. I can binge a television show from beginning to end and feel absolutely no guilt. I’m even a touch paranoid, which was always a liability in the before times, but now is a plus. Wash my hands every time I enter the apartment? No problem! Wear three masks over my face and one strapped to my belly button? Way ahead of you.

If this were Jurassic Park, I’d be the scientist safely locked in a bunker, whining that there aren’t any Twinkies left. Meanwhile, outside my comfortable cocoon, people are being actively eaten by T-Rexes.

And, yet, there are still hard days. There are days when I can’t filter out the scale of what’s happening across the globe. There are days when I’d pay ridiculous amounts of money just to sit in a coffee shop or take a dance class. Have a conversation with a stranger and not wonder if they’re going to kill me. I don’t know what my professional life is going to look like after this. I’m not even at the stage where I’m picking through the debris. This is such a long time to be trapped in a liminal space.

My husband said it yesterday while we were walking around the neighborhood, dodging other humans like they were radioactive bob-ombs. “Usually we try to live our lives as fully as possible, but now instead of living we’re spending our time trying not to die.”

He’s not wrong about that. His words matched my mood. I was so bummed thinking about everything we’re missing, all the ways the world is hurting and the time we’ve lost to this vicious thing. Really marinating in those emotions for a while, you know? Feeling guilty for feeling gross, but feeling gross all the same.

Yet, as is the case with me, I think my way into holes, but I also eventually think my way out of them. Because I thought about how the social landscape has changed for me. I’ve lost contact with some of my friends, but I’ve grown closer to others. Sure they’re on the other side of screens, but it’s easier to talk about the real stuff when everyone is struggling. It’s acceptable to admit that this shit is hard and we’re not okay. And from this grows connections that are a little stronger and more authentic. They might last. Because we’ve all been through this big, strange thing together. There’s not much need for pretense anymore.

If we ever step out into the light again, perhaps we won’t be quite so alone.

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts. http://sarahlofgren.com

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