I wrote this entire blog post in my sleep this morning. Which is to say, I dreamed that I had to make all these pies – savory and sweet – for a wedding, but that I’d put the task off – probably because pie making intimidates me – all those special things you have to do get the crust right. To make matters worse, there was this big sack of pie filling leaning against the kitchen table that was on the verge of going bad, but in the dream, someone told me there was still time to make the pies, so I took a big breath and I baked. This was the blog post I was going to write, me telling you about the courage it took to make some pie.
I woke up at 5am this morning to transcribe the story, and as I entered the kitchen, I realized there was no wedding, there was no pie making, there wasn’t even exactly a blog – there was just this dream that I thought was real. I honestly thought the whole thing had happened. I stood there for a minute lost in the gauzy fabric that separates real life from dream life, and it took me a moment to sort it out, me standing there in my kitchen at 5am in the gray morning light, my pajama bottoms sweeping the floor because they’d lost their elastic years ago. No pie to be seen.
It’s been a year like that; the life before, the life now – how what seemed like a dream, an impossible way to live, has become so real. The masks, how we line up to enter a store, sometimes getting our temperature checked at the door, the way we reach out toward our screens to touch the people we love.
As unbelievable as it’s been, one of the things I haven’t minded so much is how long we’ve been in it, and that it hasn’t been, as my friend Lori said on the phone the other day, “a one time event that we had to get over, like 9/11, something we would handle and get past.” The pandemic hasn’t gone away, it hasn’t allowed us to be glib and get over it, to come up with pithy lessons of what we’ve learned. It hasn’t been easy, and because of that it’s been an opportunity to keep us uncomfortable for longer than we thought we had tolerance for, and to season us into something deeper. At least it has for me, though it’s taken me months to sort it out. Even now I struggle to find the words, and feel hesitant to put anything into print because these ideas aren’t fully baked – like those pies I was so uncertain about.
For months it was a kind of depression for me, even though my own life hadn’t completely toppled. If anything, I got to work with a lot more people because so many people wanted to write. I was gobsmacked by the gravity of the virus. The insidiousness of it. The only thing I could point to was a naiveté on my part, a long held belief that someone or something – like the government or Bill Gates or Big Daddy or the scientists were going to save us.
One night in March I ran out into the street to see the full moon and I actually spoke aloud, “save us,” I pleaded quietly. But as soon as the words left my mouth I shook my head and thought, “the moon can’t save us.” I felt stupid, I wished my dad were alive.
I recognize the privilege that came with that thinking – that we could fix this, that there was a plan, or enough money or enough smart people, or that we had a government that cared, a president who…
I felt flattened, silenced. I got quiet. I focused on working and walking. At night, my daughter, who had moved home, would turn to me and we’d quietly say a few things from the day that we appreciated.
Many mornings I wake up with my hands on my belly, on my heart – finding an anchor, helping me settle into the unknown and adjust to a world where there are no answers, and where we are left to make decisions for ourselves; Should we see our mothers? Could we get on that plane? Is this mask safe enough? The way we still have to weed through the tangle of gut instinct, fear and hope.
I keep fantasizing about the day we’ll all walk out of our houses without masks. I see it in slow motion, the way we’ll greet our neighbors on the street, the way we’ll move toward the hug, even to the neighbor we don’t know well, just because we can.
Until then, I’ll accept more stumbling out of bed and into the gray morning light, remembering, then forgetting, certain there was something I was supposed to do – a wedding, a pie – something I wasn’t sure how to move toward, but would.
Listen to Laurie read the blog here …
Friends, if you’d like to create a writing practice this year, I want to welcome you into the Wild Writing Family, a community of like-minded folk who write from three short Wild Writing videos a week. It’s a personal practice that invites you to sit down and write for 15 minutes a day and lay down some authentic writing. The Wild Writing Family does have a Facebook group where people may share work, as well as a live meeting on Zoom every two weeks where we write together. It’s been a beautiful way to move through the pandemic together.
I’d love for you to join us.