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March 14, 2021

One Year Ago: Musings From the First Days of COVID-19.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.

After one year of the pandemic, I thought I should share these words that, to me, still feel very relevant.

May it remind us all of the loss, growth, change, and lessons this past year has brought.

It’s my 28th birthday, but I don’t feel much like celebrating.

It isn’t as though I wish to be dead; celebration in the midst of mass fear seems like laughing in the face of those who are affected by this intense moment in human history. The rain falls outside; the date is Friday March 13, 2020. I was born on a Friday, and a superstitious soul might wonder if that isn’t why I’ve had such poor luck with birthdays. This year is different, however, as neighbors and family take measures to ensure their health and safety as the consequences of global capitalism and exploitation of human life take hold on the collective consciousness and no longer allow themselves to be swept under the rug of comfort and security.

I sit wide-eyed in my bedroom. I finally got some decent sleep last night after several nights filled with nightmares and insomnia—not a very common occurrence for me as of late. My period opens my emotions up and heightens my sensitivity, which has already been on high alert. I feel like a lightening rod, or a sponge, or somehow both simultaneously; the collective experience finds me easily and courses through my body and mind. I cannot shake this feeling of significant change, and with it, fear. So much fear, even with my phone dead and minimal contact with others—I cannot escape it. It seeps into my mind and out of my fingertips into this screen where I attempt to transform it into something helpful, something beautiful, something to bring hope to others or, at the very least, a feeling of companionship.

I haven’t felt much like myself; it is difficult to make light, and laugh, and be silly, something I value immensely. I know it is temporary, but I can’t help but feel heavy and serious. Last night, I went to dinner with some friends and as I put on my nice dress, heels, and makeup, I felt like an actor dressing for a pointless and shallow role. What point is there to this aesthetic? What part of my self does it express? Why do I follow a system of expression with no depth, or point, or feeling? I know it is meant to be fun, and everyone says I deserve to be spoiled and feel beautiful; it isn’t as though I feel I don’t or I am not, but on this birthday there is a part of myself that feels so much more in need of nurturing, and it certainly isn’t physical.

A new world is forming and much is changing, rapidly. I have often felt like I had plenty of time, like things change slowly and over time, but this is an incredibly naive point of view. Sure, some things do take lots of time to shift, but if history has taught us anything it is that sometimes an entire civilization can shift and even be wiped out in near seconds.

Mother Nature knows more than we; she decides our fate. We are cells in her body, moving parts of a whole that is connected far beyond what we can measure or understand in these tiny, fragile human bodies. We are cursed by our own autonomy—this feeling that, as individuals, we have some sort of grand power over this sprawling universe. We are conversely blessed by it, this knowledge that if we can empower the tiny universe inside of us, we can interconnect with the larger picture, and though we may not be able to steer the boat, we can at least choose to watch the clouds move.

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