Saturday, March 21, 2020

Pandemic Dispatch from a One-Bedroom Apartment

There are moments you remember all your life. Or so sang Yentl.

This past week is one to remember. Some of us will. I think this is the week that a lot of us really caught on how long this Covid-19 pandemic might last, how long it will disrupt our lives. I worry that not enough people have caught on. Right now, I hear neighbors having a party. I don't know how many people, but more than could possibly keep 6 feet distance from each other. I hope they're sure of their status.

They closed the play I was performing in. We only got in 2 of our scheduled 9 performances. It was a blow to all of us, even if we knew it to be the right decision. I knew it to be the right decision. Still, I shed a few tears over it. It was a fun show with a great cast and age appropriate for some young friends who don't often get to see me perform. I was looking forward to them seeing it. I wanted a lot more people to see it. If I'd come to believe that we were in for a long haul with this virus, this made it concrete for me.

I went into work on Monday, but they sent us home in the afternoon. We would be working at home for the next two weeks. I think that's now expanded, but I can't remember right now if they've given an estimated end date for this. I don't particularly like working at home. I like to keep a separation between that life and my home life, but it's actually been okay so far. Some big events with work have been postponed, which will make some things easier at this moment. Other things remain hard. A lot of my work can be done from here, not all of it can. Some just won't be done for now.

Wednesday night, I had a Zoom meeting with a book group that my church is conducting for lent. How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibrim X. Kendi. We're having good discussion around the book, but I was also surprisingly relieved to see faces on my screen. We didn't have Sunday worship last week and we won't again tomorrow morning and so on for the foreseeable future. There is a group of us that usually goes out to lunch after church on Sunday and based on my reaction to the book group I asked some of that group if they wanted to try having a Zoom liunch meeting tomorrow. We're giving it a go.

I've been thinking a lot about community the last few months, how I'm often on the edge of my communities and yes indisputably a part of them. My introvert ways doesn't make me antsy during this time of voluntary sequestering, but I also know I care about a number of people in my own aloof way. I've noticed a number of people on Facebook that I haven't noticed recently. It's being a place for people to interact. I'm always active on Facebook---its the perfect social interaction for an introvert---but I see more outgoing people seeking the interaction there now. How is this shaping my communities, the edges, the centers? We'll see.

I exchanged emails with my spiritual director today. He and his husband were on a cross-country trip that is getting cut short. He detailed their trip back home, how they had reservations at bed and breakfast stops, where they have arrangements so they never have to meet the owners. I hope they make the journey back home safely and virus-free. I'm impressed with their plan.

Strange days. Of course, I think about God. Pray in my own undisciplined way. I'm reminded of the prayer from Abba Macarius of the desert, the one that got me through my pancreas health scare 7 years ago: O Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy on me. Help me." I pray it in the plural now. It works for me when I don't know what to pray for. Realistically, I mean. I can pray for all kinds of miracles, but that's not the sort of faith I have. I can pray for the virus to disappear, but I know that won't happen in some biblical story way. Praying for mercy? I can do that.

 This afternoon, spurred by a grad school classmate who mentioned a song that I found online and danced to in my kitchen, I turned on my camera and went live on Facebook for a one-song dance party. That felt good. I don't know for sure if anyone danced along. I had encouraging comments and it seemed to be fun for the viewers so maybe I'll do it again. So many in the dance community right now are offering online classes. I'm just offering a party. I think it might be 4 minutes spent well.

This is not the blogging I expected to do during lent. Nothing is as I expected this lent. I'm looking at weeks ahead without the Eucharist. I'm looking toward an Easter celebration that will be celebrated at a safe distance. For now, I'm good in my one-bedroom apartment with my one cat. Solitude of this sort doesn't worry me, and yet I feel the grief of cancelled plays, of missed Eucharists, of interrupted trips, of postponed celebrations, of news stories, of so much anxiety. There is this grief and there will be more grief before this is over.

It's going to be a lot. We may as well dance some, too. That's all I've got.

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