I wonder if on the other side of coronavirus, scholars will write papers and create graphs to illustrate the predictable emotional trajectory our lives took over the course of this crisis. Like the “Cultural Shock” graph Joy put on her blog, during the time they lived in Finland, maybe there will turn out to be a pattern of emotions and behavior that many of us experienced in the same way. My sister told me last week that she, and everyone she knows, was experiencing a severe case of the “grouchies”. My week was also an irritable one in which every little decision became a problem that required advanced calculus in order to find a solution. Things like what to make for dinner. For the first time, after nearly three months, I entered stores and faced strangers who were not wearing masks, when I shopped for my flowers at the greenhouses. I went into a small liquor store in which there were no other customers, but the man at the cash register was not wearing a mask, and at the dry cleaners drive-up window, I mistakenly used her pen to sign the credit card slip instead of my own. I don’t know how many times I wiped everything down in my car, my purse, the steering wheel, and drove home with all the windows down despite 52 degree temperatures. I was so emotionally and physically wrecked that I was in bed by 7:30. I felt just like the old Peanuts cartoon that showed Charlie Brown lying in bed next to Snoopy, with the caption, “It’s too peopley out there.”
The whole experience sent me down a rabbit hole for a couple of days in which all I did was walk around the house doing nothing, despite the short list I create each morning for focus. It was another rainy and cool week–in fact, the totals coming in for this month show we’ve had double the usual amount of rain and temperatures are 10-15 degrees cooler than normal. Just one of those weeks. It’s still cloudy here on Memorial Day, no boats on the lake, and rain coming in again tonight. But, the temperatures are forecasted to be flat-out summer by mid-week, and Don is preemptively worrying that the snowpack will melt too fast and there will be forest fires come August. I can’t believe he can even think that far into the future. My sister and I regularly exchange emails with inspirational quotes, and in one from last week, there was the line, “mustering hope and good cheer,” and I thought about how tiring it is to “muster”. But, we do. And, as you can see from my photo, there was some good cheer in gathering up my lilacs this morning.
On the Other Side by Lynn Unger
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger—or smaller—
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.