All the somedays

Flourish Vol. 30

In a parallel universe, I’d be somewhere in Morocco right now. Strolling through Casablanca, the Blue City, the mosques. Hopping sleeper trains and haggling in souks and sipping a whole lot of mint tea. I was excited to visit a new continent, to be back in an Arabic-speaking country for the first time since I was a kid. It was supposed to be that once in a lifetime kind of trip that’ll definitely still happen in this lifetime – eventually.

In this universe, of course, time has stood still for now. Instead of international trips, I’m getting giddy over a delivery of off-brand Clorox wipes and last night’s sunset drive, which felt as contraband as sneaking out of the house as a teen. I found myself, jarringly, missing my commute, a route I drove twice a day for more than two years, nearly by muscle memory. And suddenly it’s a place I used to go, like coming back to your hometown and realizing you don’t really make sense there anymore.

So I guess that’s the point I’m at in all this, missing my drives to work. And of course, I’ve long been missing my friends, my family, my coworkers, my city. Bars and restaurants and parks and concerts and aimless trips to Target. I miss spring, and – preemptively – summer, because I’m trying to maintain my sanity by setting a realistic timeline in my head. I miss all the things that could’ve happened and might’ve happened and won’t happen because of this.

Of course, I’m able to dwell on all of this ennui because I am employed, insured, healthy; because I’ve spent my entire life preparing for all of the what-ifs and running through the the worst case scenarios in my mind, because I have a safety net of my own design. Because I have cleaning supplies and toilet paper, enough canned goods to last me a while, a job I can do from home, no kids or ailing family members to care for. Because I have the good fortune to live in a state that had enough foresight to see this storm coming.

And still it’s been a strain on the psyche; so many sleepless nights spent scrolling Twitter for the latest bit of heartbreaking news. Worrying for my family members still working in states without stay-at-home orders. The news that my mother’s cousin in New Jersey had COVID-19. He was on a ventilator before we even knew he was sick, and dead two days later. The United States recorded its highest death toll that day – a grim record it would break each following day – and I sent my mother a photo of the CNN chyron; US Reports 835 Dead Today, Most In One Day. “Strange to think my cousin was in that count,” she texted back, and it sort of took my breath away. To think of all the lives reduced to statistics, unclaimed bodies buried in unmarked graves, families saying their last goodbyes through plexiglass. As if any of this is normal, as if any of it needed to happen.

Tomorrow, I’ll have a virtual Easter Sunday with my family, and I can’t wait to see their faces, to have some semblance of familiarity for a little while. I am anxious and I am angry a lot now, but I am trying to stay balanced and grounded, to do what I can to support the businesses I’d be frequenting normally, to check in with my family and friends, to still bring my very best self to work. My saving grace has been learning to release my grip on life for a little while, realizing that I can’t fix things this time, that nothing is in my control right now. When you spend your whole life feeling that the weight of the world is yours to carry, it can be oddly freeing to realize how little your problems and best laid plans matter in the grand scheme of things. We are all at the whim of this world, and it spins madly on.

Back when I booked my trip to Morocco, LA was still shaken by Kobe Bryant’s sudden death. Even for someone with a minimal grasp on sports, that loss was jarring in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. When my friend and I simultaneously hit the book button, flinging thousands of dollars and a whole lot of blind faith at a trip we’d been mulling over for nearly a year, she half-jokingly said Kobeeeeee and we laughed, excitedly, nervously – carpe diem, baby.

Inevitably, few weeks later, the coronavirus would hit Europe, then the United States. Delta suspended our route to Paris, then the tour company canceled our trip, then the US closed its borders. Of course, there was nothing we could do, nothing else we would have wanted to do. Our flights were refunded, our tour held for future credit. It was disappointing and yet, in a way, our worst case scenario had happened. The bottom had fallen out, the best laid plans had fallen apart, and we were fine – better than fine. Something that would’ve seemed catastrophic under normal circumstances was dwarfed by a world that had suddenly decided to remind us that it could be so unrelentingly cruel.

Maybe I’ve been quarantined with my crystals for too long, but my point is that the future isn’t promised. So much more of this life than we’d like to admit is out of our control, much as we’d like to pretend otherwise. So whenever this is finally over, I’m gathering up all my somedays to go out and carpe the fucking diem.

Recommendations:

I’d heard great things about Netflix’s Unorthodox, but thought it might be a bit too heavy of viewing material for the current moment. It’s not a light watch, but it turned out to be the perfect antidote to the state of things, being so radically removed from my life or anything I’ve ever experienced. The four-part series tells the story of Esty, a young Hasidic Jewish woman who decides to flee Brooklyn for Berlin following an arranged marriage. It’s so poignant and thought-provoking and incredibly informative. – and it makes me want to revisit Berlin whenever I can travel again. // My latte withdrawals began pretty much as soon as the stay-at-home order did, so I knew that in order to still be a functioning human being, a home espresso maker would be required. I went with the basic Nespresso De'Longhi Essenza Mini, which is perfect for a small kitchen and small budget (compare online retailers and be sure to ask for a price match!) and I’m very, very happy with it so far. It’s the little things that make this quarantine bearable, for sure. // For “lighter” viewing, I’ve been leaning back into the familiarity of procedurals like Bones and Criminal Minds, so this write-up from The Ringer gave me a good laugh. // “I had become very good at being on my own. Now, suddenly, I see myself everywhere.” // If you have anxiety and depression but feel better during the pandemic, you’re not alone.

My apologies that this letter was so heavy, but hopefully you enjoy these tweets as much as I did:

I would apologize for stanning Bendigo Fletcher so hard but 1) that would be blasphemy and 2) this video is one of the only things that has truly calmed my mind in the past month.

Give yourself permission to just live in today. We’ll handle tomorrow when we get there.

-Olivia