This isn’t about the pandemic.

Well it is. And it’s not.

I wasn’t going to post anything about the pandemic, because currently, we’re all being flooded with emails from corporate entities eager to tell us about how they offer 5 days of sick leave and a bottle of hand sanitizer to their employees (or they will once it’s not back-ordered for three months). But not saying anything made it seem like I write all my posts weeks if not months in advance, schedule them, and then walk away (actually that is what I do), and don’t actually wish to engage meaningfully (I do want that in fact). So let me try to be slightly less tone-deaf to the massive global anxiety and threat that’s currently upon us, like even more upon us than climate change which is very much upon us as well.

I’m sitting on my bed right now listening to traffic. My city is issuing a shelter-in-place order today, but there’s still a decent amount of morning traffic noise. Our bedroom’s at the back of the house, and the house backs up against a busy street; it’s the only way we could afford the place. Still, though. I thought by now, we’d have less traffic noise.

This city has a huge traffic problem. We’ve become like L.A., in that much if not most smalltalk begins with a gripe about the traffic and what route you tried to get here, only to find that it didn’t save you more than 15 seconds but you did get to see a new variety of overgrown lawn and speed bumps as you wound your way through the labyrinthine mazes surrounding Rundberg. It turns out, if you remove — I don’t know, eighty percent of our traffic? We still have a lot of traffic.

In the moment in which I’m writing this, we’re hunkered down. My family and I are absolutely among the lucky ones, meaning that we have jobs today, shelter, food, and each other, even if that means yelling matches about screen time limits and sheer exhaustion at 9 p.m. after spending 14 hours (I typed 114 at first and that didn’t feel wrong) as a worker, teacher, parent, cook, and laundress. (Not a housemaid. My husband is vacuuming more than either of us has vacuumed in the last five years, thank goodness for his efforts, and we’re both doing just so much, but I’m not cleaning a whole lot.)

We have it good, and it’s still stressful. We’re worried a bit for ourselves in that way of knowing things could be terrible for us in the future but we can’t wrap our heads around it exactly, and we are, like everyone, worried for friends and family. The numbers suggest it’s likely that someone we know and love will fall ill. We may lose someone we know and love, even though everyone we know is currently healthy. (Not quite, actually. We are acquainted with one of our town’s positives, but she’s recovering well thankfully.)

Meanwhile, that damn traffic noise.

Here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth. Things are going to get real quiet here today, but not silent. We’ll still see the rot that’s left and the neglect and the suffering around us, perhaps better than we’ve ever seen it. We’ll see how the system (and yes, I’m using traffic as a metaphor) is set up so that there’s never really any moment of peace. There’s gonna be some clarity, though. We might even get a chance to see what really needs to happen to get us where we need to go. That we’ll do that? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh. But when at least some of the traffic goes away, we’ll have a better view of the road.

I’m just finished reading R. Eric Thomas’s Here for It, a nutty little book that is at times hilarious enough to make your abs hurt. It’s also astute and thoughtful. A black gay Christian man, Thomas makes no bones about things that are wrong with this country, but he also says, “Anything good in this country has had to be wrestled free.”

Y’all take care. Stay safe, stay away from people if you can. Look for the silence, or at least the reduced noise, and see what you learn from that. When we find ourselves again in some new normal, maybe we’ll have found some better routes.

Published by Elizabeth

I alphabetize my private library.

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