I cried. And then I cried because I cried. I’ve been working on managing my state of mind, then this past weekend I came to a mental dead-end where I could feel nothing but anxiety. When I zoom out and look at my life, I see that I’m one of the lucky ones. In theory, I’m so happy. I’m in love and living with a human who adores me, and that was, I always thought, the recipe for complete happiness. In theory. In reality, my Love Boat is cruising on the stormy sea of current events. My Bluetooth speakers are wailing Danger Will Robinson, danger! Negative energy seeped into my veins like a drop of black ink in clear water. Then on governor’s orders we cancelled our plans to visit friends for Thanksgiving and I cried, and crying made me feel pathetic, so I cried some more.
It’s not just my friends I’ll be missing, it’s the comfort of their kitchen, the group therapy of chitchat on the year past, and the repeat of time-honored traditions that remind us who we are, where we come from and all the goodness in life. I’ve been fantasizing about those recipes for weeks, looking forward to making the corn pudding my boyfriend’s mom used to make, and the sausage dressing my grandma used to make, and the leftovers. Eating Thanksgiving leftovers is as much a tradition as the meal itself, those midnight raids on the refrigerator, dipping turkey meat in mayonnaise, nuking a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, pie for breakfast. It’s like a favorite movie that I can watch every year and still be enchanted by the story.
Now I’m going cross-eyed navel gazing. The autopsy on my bad mood revealed dread clogging my subconscious like plastic in the oceans, the toxic detritus of my media consumption, deadly floating remnants of doom scrolling tangled in the rudder of my dreams. The invisible microfibers of hate speech weighed me down. After I made the call to cancel our Thanksgiving plans, I sank. Why me? Why do I have to stay home? I’m special. We were going to drive 300 miles, spend four nights in someone else’s house, cook and eat together for a few days, and drive home. What could possibly go wrong?
I thought I was different. I thought I could put aside isolation and social distance and be just fine. I thought everyone else should stay home, but not me. I had it all figured out, the merger of sanitized bubbles. And then my government asked me to do the right thing. Duty calls. The common good requires my sacrifice. I appreciate isolation as a risk management strategy. Wearing a mask is like wearing a seatbelt. I do it to take pressure off the healthcare system so someone else has the care they need. I’m staying home because it’s the right thing to do. You may disagree. But it’s my Thanksgiving and I’ll cry if I want to. Disagreement is diversity in action. I’m just trying to be the change I seek.