Written on 06-29-20
The news is drearily the same day after day. The government has all but abandoned any commitment to public health and is allowing Covid-19 to take its deadly course. Public behavior is fraught with tension between mask wearers and plague deniers. The President tweets white supremacist videos. Racism finds defenders. Lots and lots of defenders. Everywhere. Even among those who simultaneously protest their allegiance to the Black Lives Matter movement. Russia continues its propaganda war against the American electorate. A madman sits in the oval office while the government clutches its collective pearls while making useless noise. Scientists of all stripes roll their eyes.
With no job to perform for a living, I sit each day at my desk writing to keep my sanity. I write as a child plays. To ward off boredom. To feel alive. To achieve a sense of accomplishment. To defy death. To let you know, dear readers, I am here and breathing and thinking and loving and hoping and you can do all that too wherever you are in this mess of a time. Isn’t that amazing? WE ARE HERE.
Today is the first anniversary of my husband’s death. When my alarm went off this morning, I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. It hardly seemed worth getting up; I knew I’d meet a wall of misery as I’d be unable to escape thoughts of Jim. But rise I did, because, that’s what we do, right?
I dressed and weighed myself and was delighted to see I’ve lost another pound over the past week. I sat down at my desk. I have a very nice desk of solid oak, the perfect size for a corner of my office, by the window. Like everything else in my home, it holds memories. This desk was purchased while on an outing with Jim to Urban Ore in Berkeley. We were so delighted to find it. That was very typical of Jim; sometimes his greatest delight seemed to be in what he found for me, rather than himself. Not always, I’m glad to say There was the time he found the antique Arabian saddlebags that he repurposed for pillows. They are in the living room now, and sometimes I sit and run my hand over the plush surfaces as if rubbing Jim’s back. And then there was his excitement at finding a green depression glass orange juicer, solid in the hand, with some weight, not like the plastic junk you find at the dollar store. Jim loved these discoveries. When we went out, we almost never returned home without a stop at a thrift store in which Jim could roam, sometimes for hours. The day we found the desk was one of those occasions. We’d been to several thrift stores, and used bookstores, and dollar stores, and had eaten hamburgers for lunch on Telegraph Avenue. Then we’d gone to the Fabric store where Jim spent an hour looking for just the fabric to back up a Balinese mask I wanted to put up over a door to our living room. Finally, we spent the last hour of a long and glorious day wandering through Urban Ore looking for anything that might catch our eye. It was nearly six p.m. when we discovered the desk. We couldn’t afford it, but on, careful examination we found some minor flaws and convinced the manager to drop the price by nearly 50%. Then we couldn’t afford not to get the desk. It was obvious that the manager didn’t think it was sufficiently flawed to warrant the drop in price, but we were in love, and we glowed, and we were so excited, our charm was irresistible. He rolled his eyes, but he smiled, too, as he wrote up the receipt.
Then we discovered it couldn’t fit in the car. What would we do now? I took out my cell phone and posted a plea on Facebook: did anybody have a truck or a station wagon that might help us out? We’d buy dinner afterwards. Within five minutes our friend Hugh responded that he was on his way, but wouldn’t have time for dinner. He was as good as his word, and an hour later the desk had a new home.
And all this has been relived this morning, within five minutes of rising. I run my hand over the oak desk, light a candle and some incense, and compose myself for morning meditation. I am ready to face the day.
And memories are like that. Jim is gone, memories linger. The world is falling apart, memories linger. They ground me.
They remind me, you see, that I have been loved. I was here. I am here. And I have been loved.
That’s news, too.
So what’s the news with you?