I am driving back home Sunday, through a raging storm when the call comes over the radio:
“Beep Beep Beep…please be aware that a tornado watch is in effect for West Michigan counties from now until 8:00pm tonight.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a tornado–I’ve been lucky not to–but the minute you know it is a possibility, you start seeing potential tornados everywhere you look. They become tornados of the mind. This is one of those imaginary journeys…
I like to describe myself as a humor writer. Someone who looks at the chaos of life around me and finds the funny in it. But, there is something about life in Covid lockdown that suggests I am actually a disaster-seeking opportunist. You be the judge.
Afraid to rock a precariously tiny boat on very troubled seas.
A friend recently suggested I “Woman up” or, in essence, to stop being a coward.
So here goes:
I am truly terrified of COVID-19. Everything I’ve read convinces me this is a plague of biblical proportions. And that’s saying something coming from an agnostic!
But even more than a highly contagious disease, I am afraid to lose friendships because of COVID-19. So afraid, that I have not asked people to wear masks when I’m in close proximity. Even though I have worn mine in my yard…while by myself…while weeding.
I desperately cling to friendships, even when the cling-ee isn’t that keen on tolerating the stranglehold I have on them. I have lost friendships before. I will likely lose friendships again. Possibly over this. And I truly hate the thought.
I have been a coward; and I’m going to try very hard to stop. But even contemplating telling my friends my position, I’m feeling a welling, choking sensation I haven’t felt for years.
TIME TRAVEL SEGUE–NO, NOT THAT KIND OF SEGUE—ABACK TO THE PAST KIND:
I had a job once at a place we’ll aptly refer to as “DeepHell University.” It was in the fundraising department. I had a very challenging boss who, in her defense, had a very weird secretary. Me. I was the secretary.
(TRUE CONFESSION: I accidentally read a highly personal email from one of her friends when the I.T. guys accidentally linked my new email to my boss’s mail system–and I read it…and replied to it…at length…because I literally did not understand what the internet was and how it differed from emails.) This happened the very first day I worked there, but the boss forgave me. Kind of.
We managed a rocky half-year of an increasingly challenging relationship. This boss made me nervous. Like cat-on-a-hot-plate-in-a-room-full-of-rabid-pit-bulls, nervous. I took everything she said as criticism or complaints. I felt stupid, clumsy, and unsuited to the job. Everything I heard sounded like blame and hostility. I became so nervous I would plot a course around the entire department in hopes of avoiding seeing her. (Her office was right next to me, but around a corner.) It got so bad, I started doing a thing. A thing I did NOT know I was doing. I started holding my breath. I passed out several times before finally wising up and seeking professional help. I’m lucky I didn’t give myself permanent brain damage via concussion or oxygen deprivation. I have never been so grateful to be fired from a job in my life.
BACK TO THE FUTURE…MEANING THE CURRENT OR PRESENT DAY:
So, if you see me, and I keep a six foot distance from you while you are unmasked, do not be surprised and try not to take offense. Please understand, I am not judging anyone. I am not trying to make any kind of political statement. I’m just trying to make the best choice I can in a very bad time in our world.
I’m supposed to see family tomorrow. They prefer to go maskless. (Apparently they didn’t have the same fantasies about becoming Zorro I did as a child.) I really want to see them but I’m also a ticking time bomb of terror–albeit one with a love of alliteration. It tears my heart in two when I’m faced with this dilemma. I don’t want to be considered a nagging worrywart. And yet, if the wart fits…
So I’m asking them to move the get together into the backyard. And crossing my fingers that I am not dropped from future invitations of this kind–especially seeing as I organized this one. But my family has forgiven flakier behavior than this. [More on this topic in another blog post. I’ve confessed enough for one day. It’s best to spread the crazy out a little bit at a time.]
I’d like to think someday we’ll be safer and these extreme measures won’t be necessary. But that future isn’t here yet. (I’m feeling an overwhelming need to throw in another Back to the Future reference, but I’m coming up blank. You’ll just have to picture me driving a Deloreann and wearing a white, fright wig.)
And for those of you too young to get that reference, here’s a YouTube clip. (Proving I am slightly more technologically capable than my younger self.)
Back to The Future Present Tense–Plague Edition
Do you hate me now?
If you knew that, by catching COVID-19 there is no one who can watch my son, would that make a difference? Any sign of even a cold nowadays, and I lose all the help that comes into my home throughout the week. Help that keeps me from going bat-guano crazy. If I really caught COVID, I would be on my own, struggling to take care of a special needs child and afraid to ask anyone to help because I just couldn’t risk exposing somebody else to the disease.
So I will wear a mask. I will try to stay a six foot distance away. And I will not hold my breath waiting for others to understand. I am scared. For all of us!
In parting, I ask you, my viewing audience:
What would you do if you had to choose between friends…and safety?
What would you choose?
…a question that tempts me to include the following:
It is kind of hard to write something funny about getting a diagnosis of breast cancer, but it helps if you were signed up for G.I.S.H. (W.E.S) before even a hint of trouble arose on the horizon. GISH(WES) stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known.) It may not cure cancer…but it sure cured getting the diagnosis.