Hu Cares | Before & After
When I was a teenager, I invented a ritual. Before a really exciting party or a big test or summer camp, I would take a moment while sitting on the toilet and think: you will be back here again later today, or tomorrow, or in three weeks, and it will look exactly the same, but you will have changed. Something will have happened to you. And, sure enough, when I’d return, I’d sit in the same place and take stock of the familiar things — the white wicker hamper in front of the toilet, the bath tub to my right, the sink to the my left — and marvel at how they had not moved even an inch while I was off doing new things, meeting new people.
I’m entering day 17 of isolation, and the coronavirus version of this ritual is a little different. I’m not seeing or doing anything new, so instead, I’m remembering what came before, and I imagine the same will come after. Yesterday, sitting on the couch, I thought of all my friends who had sat beside me in the last few weeks, beer in hand, talking about whatever we used to talk about before all this. In my backyard, I see my friend’s plants. “Is she going to come by and do any socially distant gardening?” my husband asked. No, I don’t think so, I said, but we video chatted yesterday and it was nice. I think about what it will be like to hug my friends, get on an airplane and see my family on the other side of the country, climb outside, go to a farmer’s market. I think about when this will be a distant memory and for an instant, it feels like it’s all already happened.
But I know that things cannot be the same on the other side. I think about all the people who have died and will die, and I selfishly hope my loved ones will stay safe. I think about my friends who have been laid off, who can’t pay rent, whose hours have been cut, who work in hospitals and grocery stores, who are losing access to health insurance, who are now saddled with homeschooling their children on top of everything else, who are tirelessly studying the virus or tirelessly reporting on it. To assume things will resume as they were is a form of denial; perhaps the most privileged of us will return to a daily life that looks like the before, but there is no going back. I don’t know yet what will change and how, but I am trying to note the cracks in our system and decipher what we can do to repair them while also holding space for the good things. Right now, outside my window, I see a couple stopping to smell the cherry blossoms.
Ellen Kuwana has raised nearly $17,000 and is delivering food to Seattle healthcare workers who are processing COVID-19 tests and caring for patients. Ellen’s one of those magical people who knows everyone and does everything and it’s warmed my heart to see her working tirelessly to support our healthcare heroes. You can donate here. (I am also happy to Venmo Ellen directly on your behalf if you’d rather not process any financial transactions through Facebook; just let me know.)
Kat Eschner is hosting her second online spelling bee this Friday evening. It’s free, but donations are suggested and go towards some good causes. (Kat also has a great newsletter about animal-human relationships called The Quick Fox.)
Therapist Kathleen Smith’s newsletter is always on point, but this week’s entry on maturity in crisis times especially resonated with me. I have found it calming to set boundaries and return to a regimented schedule (or at least not going to bed at 2am after reading 9837593187 news articles). This is a privilege I know not everyone has, but if you have some control right now over your day-to-day, Kathleen’s words might help.
Stuff I’ve made lately
Don’t go climbing right now, or do anything in the backcountry that might land you in the hospital. (Slate)
I am now writing over at the Last Word on Nothing! For those of you who aren’t familiar with LWON, it’s a lovely, cozy spot on the internet where writers I admire meditate on whatever they want. I’ve written about how it feels to see other writers and creators follow through on an inkling of an idea I had years ago, and the ways in which we might all become a little more wild after this crisis passes.
I talked with King County Metro bus driver Nathan Vass about what it’s like on public transit right now. A coincidence, perhaps, but the day after this was published, KC Metro announced they were no longer collecting fares and that passengers would enter through the back doors to avoid contact with drivers. (Slate)
I made some bad doodles…
…and I’m on TikTok now???? (So far, it’s all Maeby, obviously)
And that’s it.
Love you all. Take care of yourself as best as you can.