Remember the phrase “March comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb”? People in the States said it all the time, because the beginning of Spring – March – usually has heaps of storms and crazy temperature changes, but April is supposedly the start of the “beautiful months” (If you’re into everything blooming and plants spooging pollen everywhere – I much prefer Fall when everything dies and I can stop blowing my nose and overdosing on anti-histamines). I could say this phrase applies to March 2020. But I could also say March came in like a Sherman Tank and left like a pack of angry terminators in 1996.
What. A. Month.
What. The. Fuck.
I can’t remember having more intense period of worry, frustration, and sheer uncertainty in my life (I mean, besides every month in my 20’s hello draaaaama).
We started March planning a trip to the US, and ended March with the country having knife fights over TP. In the space of two weeks, all theatres closed and hospitality went to take away only, most retail stores closed, and my therapist and my GP moved their appointments online. And as of this week, my job is 100% remote for an indefinite period. So now I’m truly house bound, only leaving for essential trips – like groceries. Or little sanity walks around the neighbourhood. Or going to Broadway to buy a pair of “work” sweat pants (business up top, party down below).
It’s only been three days of work from home, but I already miss so much about being at work. The walks to and from the the station to my apartment (the walk I used to hate, btw), running into co-workers and having a laugh, getting up and moving around constantly – I miss it. Working from home is different. At the office there were little breathers all the time. But now there’s little to no distraction so sometimes I’ll look up to the clock only to realise I haven’t moved in 2.5 hours. And this is a weird one – but I feel very exposed being on video chat all day. Which I shouldn’t, considering I’m ‘exposed’ in my office when I’m face to face with everyone. But there’s something creepy and vulnerable to being on screen – maybe because in a face to face situation I’m not able to see myself and how shiny my forehead gets through out the day? And I didn’t realise how my commute really put a ‘break/re-set’ between being at work and being at home. I’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of each day I have to go outside and walk, or else I’ll feel like a crumpled bag of potato chips. Like the salty broken bits at the bottom of a Lays bag that’s been rolled down a hundred times and is torn half-way.
But I could also be feeling this way because the past month has been intense for me. I’m pooped. The good news is, WFH (ugh, acronyms) isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. As exhausted and nervous as I am, I’m so thankful to have a job that could go remote. There are so many people who are being stood down/furloughed right now, and I can’t even imagine having that stress on top of dealing with everything else in the world right now. And everyone is being patient with each other as the country is literally going through all of this for the first time.
I was on a Zoom meeting with my therapist yesterday morning, and I told her apart from worrying that some or all the people I love overseas will get COVID-19, the fact that I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my friends and family again in The States makes my stomach hurt and my heart feel heavy.
“It feels more like a more actual, real fear everyday.”
“It is real. It is a real fear… and I don’t have the words or ways to make this better.”
And I felt that. Even the professional consoler in my life, the woman I pay to teach me how to make things better, can’t teach me how to make this better. It’s hard to look at the changes of the world and think, “This is happening, but we’ll get through it.” Because it’s not ok. It’s real, and it’s scary, and it’s growing exponentially. She can only teach me how to create a routine and to focus on what I can control, how to give space to these bad feelings so they don’t explode, how to be mindful and vigilant, and to keep count of what good things are happening. The changes we’re going through may be around for a long time, but we have to keep hope alive that they won’t be around forever. In times like this, I like to think of President Beck’s speech in the cinematic classic* Deep Impact, when he says something like, “The wave reached far and wide… but the waters receded.” So I like to remember that. And thinking of Morgan Freeman’s voice doesn’t hurt either.
What a time to be alive, guys.
Make sure you check in with the people you love, or even the people you haven’t heard from in a while. We’re all in this together.
And stay the fuck home.