Today is a strange day, just as yesterday was a strange day, just as the day before it and the day before it and the day before that were strange days, too. I know that tomorrow will be strange, and the day after tomorrow will be strange, and too many days and weeks that follow — more than than I can know, or want to.
Shakespeare warned us about tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow : It creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time.
All I can say is: Ugh.
Living through a pandemic is bloody weird, is it not? Yes, yes, yes, people are getting vaccinated. Yes, yes, yes, something distantly approaching normal may return in a matter of months, though not for the far-too-many who’ve died and the far-too-many-more who grieve in their absence. But this fall, maybe maybe maybe, things could be a wee bit brighter for those of us who remain. So I’ve heard. As if anyone can know. As if fixing on some distant month will make the long march of days between now and then feel anything other than strange.
The strangeness comes from the sameness borne of COVID, from the inevitably reduced social interactions and the drastic dialing-down of events both anticipated and not. It comes from the timelessness inherent in the sameness. From the repetition, the predictability, the absence of the unexpected. I am not complaining, or trying not to — not too loudly. I can’t. I’m among the lucky ones. My strange days are good and healthy strange days, filled with love and laughter and music and rewarding work and plenty of sleep and a routine that doesn’t tax me. And I’ve had lovely getaways, all within driving distance, all of them restorative. But then, post-getaway, it’s back to the weirdly altered coronaviral routine for seeming perpetuity.
On weekdays I wake, I caffeinate, I eat a bowl of cereal. I check my email and read the news in my boyfriend’s kitchen or my own, with my batshit cats rubbing my legs and my son asleep upstairs. My daughters are distant in miles but near in spirit, texting and calling to make sure I’m okay.
I crack open my laptop and work. I drink herb tea. I eat chocolate and peanut butter and bananas, sometimes all at once. I go for a walk. I work more, drinking more herb tea and doubling up the used bags to get the most out of them. I practice the violin along to backing tracks. I eat things other than chocolate and peanut butter and bananas. I cook. I exercise by running up and down the stairs, then do sit-ups and push-ups. I shower. I text, email, talk on the phone, Zoom once a week with friends and bandmates. About every dozen days or so, I make a big run to the grocery store, mask snugly covering my mouth and schnozz. I order shit from Amazon: cornflakes, toilet paper, socks. On the weekends I play Scrabble with my beau. We watch virtual jazz shows with each other and sci-fi with my son. We go for walks. On Sundays I watch virtual Mass. I drink yet more herb tea.
I read. I fall asleep. I dream of having crazy fun at parties with maskless people, then freak the hell out when I realize it’s not safe, and the dream becomes a nightmare. Then I wake and start all over again.
The sameness of it all, the strangeness of it all, makes me wonder what Einstein might have said about this distended temporal state we’re in — timelessness, perhaps, or time reduced to a coma by the profoundly bland repetition of it all. On this train we’re riding the clocks aren’t slowed or stopped but pointless. Time isn’t relative but rendered moot, invisible, even, a haunting in the shadows. Which second, which minute, which hour, which day of the week is it? Which month? Wait — you mean, it’s nearly February? But but but but I’m only halfway through my bowl of cereal! And it’s the same bowl of cereal I’ve been eating since last March!
Sitting on my bed on this sunny, windy, chilly day, I’m realizing it’s been months since I last posted on this blog. I can’t say why, exactly. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say. I’ve said plenty, whether the words have simply rattled around the space between my ears or reached someone else’s. It’s just that time passed at Macbeth’s petty pace, then more passed, then more — but I barely took notice of it.
One of my batshit cats is at my feet right now, his paws twitching in a busy little dreamstate. Through the window I can see trees sway and sparrows streak across my neighbors’ roofs, and I’m reminded that each tiny movement of a branch or a wing is different from the last one, different from the next one, different from all the tiny movements piled up behind us or yet to come. I’m reminded again that change is, after all, the only constant.
At some point, I know, that change will bring us to a new phase in this country and this cosmos, and the strangeness will lift. The sense of sameness will abate, and our endlessly repetitive COVID routines will get upended by a rash of ass-kicking in-person commitments and travel plans. We will all run screaming from our homes, hug each other, high-five each other, cheer in each other’s faces and party like there’s no tomorrow, because tomorrow, as we’ve all learned, is just another twitch in time that we can’t see.
But we’ll get there. I swear on the holy relics of my many herbal tea bags, we’ll get there.