I’m a really good liar.
I hid my depression for years – YEARS, y’all – and absolutely no one knew. (Except for that strange lady who walked right up to me in a grocery store and said, “Your aura is hurting. It’s going to be okay.” Then she smiled and touched my arm before walking away. Dag.) I kept the real me, the part of me that was in pain, from the world. And I did a stellar job of hiding me.
It occurs to me that I’m hiding myself again, mostly from myself. I occupy my time with tasks and projects, then I obsess over news and information. I fiendishly seek laughter and entertainment, then I cry while trying to figure out ways to help my community – and mostly failing – while staying in isolation. Through it all, I tell myself that I’m doing pretty good. That I’m keeping it together and that I’m solid.
And sometimes I am solid. Sometimes I stand tall and strong. But the rest of the time? I’m losing my shit, y’all. I try to find a quiet place to cry, so that Mister doesn’t see or hear me. I worry about my friends in Italy. I worry about friends in the UK. I worry about friends in New York, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington. I worry about friends down the damn road. And sometimes I even worry about Mister and myself. But mostly I worry about all of us, the Whole World.
I don’t have any advice. I don’t know what to do for myself, so I absolutely do not know what anyone else should do. When I feel like crying, I cry. When I manage to find something funny to read or watch, I laugh. When I can occupy my hands long enough to distract me, I dig in.
Friends reach out, and I do the same. We send simple texts: You okay? Those two words bind us. They allow us to be honest with one another. I can’t tell you how many friends have told me they’re scared. And I always tell them the same thing – this is scary. Because it is.
I’m scared, too. I’m scared of statistics. Let’s say this virus kills 1% of the people it infects. I know 99 people. Add me to the list, and that’s 100. 1% means one of us isn’t going to make it. Despite what some asshole in Texas has said, I’m not prepared to say which of that 100 is expendable. I can’t imagine pointing to any single person in that circle and saying, “I’m okay with losing you.” That is beyond preposterous.
I’m scared of the inevitable worldwide economic depression. I don’t know what that will mean or how we’ll navigate that turbulence. Most of us live incredibly cushy, privileged lives. We don’t know how to ration food or supplies. We don’t know how to do without. We don’t know how to live without freaking Netflix. And those of us who are one paycheck away from homelessness? We aren’t any more prepared for destitution than our more fortunate friends. Poverty does not equal preparation.
My great-grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They were forever changed by that time and carried the experience with them throughout their lives. Their DNA is entwined with mine. Does that mean I have their strength? Their fortitude? As much as I’d like to think so, I really don’t know. All of us can point to someone in our family tree who withstood tremendous challenges. Does our ancestors’ grit predetermine our survival abilities?
We are all in the same small, rickety boat right now. And even though we can see the shore, the tides are keeping us from reaching familiar land. Rowing to exhaustion is useless. Honestly, it seems like the best thing we can do is float.
And so I’m floating – and working on art projects. Floating and trying to move my body in the confines of home. Floating and checking in on friends and loved ones. Floating and drinking. Floating and crying. Floating and occasionally laughing.
I don’t know when the tides will turn and I’ll be able to set foot on the shores of familiar life. Even then, I have no idea how that landscape will have changed. How I will have changed. But I do believe – with all my heart – that the tides will eventually turn. And when they do, and I reenter the world, I hope to see you right in front of me. Alive and well. And when I ask, “You okay?”, I hope you smile and say, “Yes. Yes I am.”