Ha, I truly didn’t mean to make you wait to see what happened.
I was going to write about my phone call with Debbie. And how it was so comforting to reconnect with her. She is truly marvelous and funny and smart and savvy.
But what I was also going to write about was that this same weekend, I had had a deep, connecting phone call with Faye. She and I can always get philosophical in no time flat. We just get each other. But this particular call stood out. I don’t know if COVID shut downs are making me reevaluate my relationships differently or if it was just one of those amazing calls.
But it turned out, it was an amazing weekend of calls.
Cuz after that call, that same weekend, I had the same kind of conversation with Mads. And with SG. SG and I had a zoom call and I got to see her cool apartment in Portland. She is another from my past that has come into my present. And it was really great to catch up.
I was going to write about it all in more detail.
But time got away from me.
And then there was the election. A week of stress, wondering if we would stay in this situation with a baby-man president. A week of stress realizing that the differences I share with some family members is no longer about different ideas on policies but that there are actual differences about ethics. And can I live with that? Can I live knowing these friends and family members are a$$holes? Many claiming to be religious too. Ugh.
And even though the party I voted for won and is now in the White House, the idea that it was that close really hurt my heart.
But I digress a bit. Sorry, I meant to be catching you up.
Shaka, Faye and I were supposed to be on a game show. That was going to be a whole story in and of itself. But after multiple zoom auditions and filling out more forms than I do at tax time, we went to shoot. Except we never got on. We sat in a cold sound stage watching everyone else get picked for the team. And there we were, three pathetic figures asking if we could go home. And then getting defiant about it. Plus, my face shield fogged up the ENTIRE day so in addition to having to stay 6 feet apart from my husband and friend, I couldn’t hear them AND I couldn’t see them. AND we didn’t get on the show. I like to think there is a good reason, but sometimes, you just don’t get picked. But we did get free covid tests where we didn’t have to wait in the usual long lines, so there’s that.
And Leigh had a birthday. I asked her what she wanted to do. She told me she wanted to go to the beach. I hadn’t been in a car this entire year with anyone other than Shaka. So Leigh and I talked about it, and we decided we would double up on masks and then drive with the windows down.
It was her birthday, but I felt like it was mine. It was a magical day of cold, clear skies. There were very few people out at the Ventura pier. She and I sat on the beach for hours watching the waves and having the kind of conversations you do with someone you have known since you were 5.
We watched a dog live his best life in the surf chasing birds and waves for an hour, while the owner sat on the sand with a poop bag and a tennis ball.
And then the holidays were upon us. I must say, it was actually an enjoyable holiday season for me because I am usually running everywhere, saying yes to every invitation and baking and cooking a lot. But everything was paced nicely. I dropped off pumpkin bread and gifts to any of my friends who were accepting baked goods. I met up for social distanced walks with a few others. And Shaka and I joined his sister and her husband with masks in their back yard for an afternoon of socially distanced gift exchange and mulled wine.
It was quite calm. And very fulfilling.
I embraced the New Year tentatively (cuz last year’s cries of “2020! Woo hoo!!!! Year of perfect Vision!!!!” didn’t age well). It was nice. A zoom call with Zappy and Mads where we dressed in sparkles and toasted our health and our friendship and to beginnings (and endings).
We didn’t want to put too much pressure on 2021. Or Biden. But we toasted to hope.
And then Leigh called to tell me her mom hadn’t been feeling well. That she was having trouble breathing.
So Leigh took her in to the ER where they admitted her. I was surprised they got in so fast since many of the hospitals at this point were full.
They gave her oxygen and she was feeling better. She even told Leigh that she thought she would be released soon. Leigh’s mom is a strong woman with crazy determination, so Leigh wanted to make sure the Doc didn’t release her based on her mom’s will. The doc told Leigh he didn’t plan to.
I made a concerted effort to start walking daily with Shaka. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to find my groove, my routine. But you meet yourself where you are. And I was in a place of gratitude for my health and my life and my relationships.
Then the Insurrection at the Capitol happened. And I knew that my feelings of unease at how close the election was was coming to fruition. I felt very saddened. And enraged. How much more damage could happen before the Inauguration?
Then I checked in on the group text for Leigh’s mom. One person asked how she was feeling.
I kept blinking at the phone as I read the words that her mom had passed away.
It was like that moment in a movie where the world becomes separated from you and you are just standing there alone. I called Leigh. The sobs shook our call. I called her sister and her niece.
I made a tribute on facebook with all the photos I could find. She called herself Dolphin Di. She was nearly 37 years sober, she scuba dove all over the world, she taught art, she delivered Meals on Wheels, she cared deeply for her family. She was complex, though. She was impatient and could snap and feel wounded. When I was a kid, she didn’t know what to make of me. She thought I talked too fast, too loud and too much. True true true. But as I got older, I think she liked my light and my fun. She had an elfin grin. You had to be careful when looking through her photos of her dive trips because there would be naked boobie shots in the mix from when she would flash the camera. She swam weekly in the ocean with a group of women. After she passed, a few of them gathered in her honor and when they reached the buoy, a pod of dolphins swam by. Dolphin Di was there. Was with them. It’s her laugh I will truly miss. So full. So lusty. So charming.
We are so close to the vaccine being available to everyone. So close.
And yet, death is all around us. Rage is all around us. Sadness is too.
In general, I tend to cry pretty easily.
But I will say that during this past year of COVID shut downs, I was pretty stoic. I was also very hopeful and determined. Determined that I would come out of this time stronger.
The daily walks have now become my salve. I need them. I love feeling the sun on my face. I love looking at the houses in my neighborhood. I love spending this time with Shaka. Our conversations get deeper and deeper. Sometimes, it’s the edibles. Sometimes, it’s just us.
This weekend, I watched, “The White Tiger” and “In and Of Itself”. Last weekend, I watched Promising Young Woman. I adored all three films. All were dark and funny, but they left a lasting impression on me. All three are in some way about how you are labeled in life. Is your life created by your identity? Or does your identity create your life? And can you change your identity? And how beholden are you to how you are seen by others? Strange questions to try and answer when you are quarantined or adhering to stay at home orders. Sometimes I wonder if Shaka and I are the only people around. Sometimes, our bubble is very quiet.
All of this…the films, the talks, the connections, the loss, the changes, the deaths, the beauty, the humor…it’s all been A LOT.
I have been stoic during COVID. I try and be the calming effect for friends who are having a hard time. Or I try and realize this time will end and what did I do with myself during it. I have a made a few epic birthday videos for family members. I am working on other creative projects. I continue to laugh daily and am grateful for life.
But this week, a dam has broken in me.
The tears have been coming and coming. And the pain rocks my soul and my heart so fiercely, that I stutter my words.
I keep saying there has never been a better time to be in a pandemic. We can do so much virtually than we ever would have at any other time. We can have things delivered. We can live in our homes with so many streaming options, it feels weird to complain.
But…maybe it’s because it’s so close to feeling normal that we feel so disconnected. I mean, if we really couldn’t see each other virtually or order food or see anyone, we would really notice the difference. But because it’s like house arrest but not really but kind of…the feelings get messy. Where do you put them? The feelings?
For me, I put them in photography. Or in words. I put them here.
I catch you up.
On my life. On my joys. And my sorrows.
I sing. I dance. I laugh with Shaka at his jokes.
Daily, I time my showers against the food truck in my neighborhood playing “La Cucaracha.” If I have showered before I hear it, I know I am on track.
And “on track” changes daily.
Some days, it’s making sure I don’t lose my mind from a few of my co-workers and other days, it’s making sure I don’t kill my cats while I am working. Some days, it’s making sure I take my walks and other days, it’s making sure I call my family members.
And other days, being on track is just being grateful.
Unless I hear La Cucaracha wafting in the air on a Saturday…then I just laugh.
Cuz there isn’t any way, I am racing to shower on the weekends to the schedule of a food truck.
Stay safe, everyone.