Greetings From Quarantine

Well! When I set out to start a new blog, “global pandemic” was not the atmosphere I was hoping for on launch day, but I certainly can’t complain about a lack of material for writing. Also, although it’s definitely no fun being stuck in quarantine, or lockdown, or self-isolation, or whatever the particular brand of required immobility is called where you live, there is something weirdly uplifting in knowing that at this moment, most of us on earth are muddling through together, all sharing some version of a similar experience. I’m not going to get too excited about it, obviously, but it is a kind of solace. Unity in tragedy, and all that.

Anyway, how are things where you are? Today is a bright, sunny spring day here in the Bay Area, probably the kind of day I should be celebrating. Instead I’m wishing it was dark and rainy, the kind of day where you don’t feel bad for wanting to do nothing but sit in bed and watch the same episodes of Britain’s Best Home Cook with Mary Berry that you’ve already watched at least eight times (it’s no Bakeoff, but it’s pretty good when you give it a chance), and maybe stare at the cover of a book that you may or may not actually pick up and read in a little while. Let’s be honest, spring is a little bit of a nightmare, isn’t it? I mean yes, it’s wonderful to see life zipping back into action after the cold constriction of winter, and the burst of flowers and new leaves is great, amazing, incredible, but it is a lot of pressure. “Spring forward” is way too cute a phrase for a shift that feels like having the covers yanked off me in the middle of a deep sleep, by someone yelling that there’s a huge breakfast waiting for me downstairs–and could I please get my butt to the table now, this instant? Now, I love a big breakfast, almost more than anything, but give me a minute to adjust and wake up before I have to put my napkin on my lap. Let me rub my eyes for a few more minutes, Nature, dammit! And don’t even get me started on allergies.

Right now, though… right now it’s a little different. The comfort of all this sunshine and birdsong and fluffy white cloud-ness is real, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Sure, I’m still wishing it would rain (to be fair, in California this is a constant, unending wish), but there’s a big part of me living in a continual state of weepy gratitude for anything pleasant, refreshing, alive. Maybe I randomly started crying yesterday when I saw new leaves on the ornamental pear tree next to my neighbor’s driveway, I don’t know. As far as nightmares go, the irritating delights of spring are a pretty easy choice over the stupefying reality of coronavirus. Oh, I can potentially die just from going outside and standing too close to another human person? Yeah, that puts things in perspective.

It sounds like a cliché, but I am humbled by the helplessness I feel in the face of forces so much bigger and more complex than me, both negative and positive. There is much we can do as humans to mitigate the toll of this virus, yes, but the fact is we will continue to be visited by pain and suffering for quite a while longer, despite our best efforts. But at the same time, the big wheel of the year keeps turning, and nature is in renewal and abundance mode despite our current state of human tragedy—life goes on, life enthusiastically surges forward with shockingly little effort, even after the deepest, most frigid pause. Those damn flowers just keep showing up, the ducks won’t stop quacking, and wide-eyed cottontails insist on chasing each other around like they think Walt Disney himself is taking notes.

There’s so much to unpack, so much to absorb and digest, most of it happening much too quickly to be understood in this moment. So, today I’m going to go ahead and watch vast quantities of Mary Berry, not because it’s a gray and rainy day like I wish it was, but because the world is upside down and locked behind a heavy door. And at the same time, I’ll give thanks for the comfortingly familiar and plainly beautiful springtime annoyances that I am fortunate enough to endure, and hope that wherever you are, whoever you are, you too have a curving branch of floaty pink blossoms or an absurdly cute little bird to roll your eyes at. And if you happen to shed a grateful, confused, overwhelmed tear while doing so, I am right there with you.

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