It was 15 years ago today that I started writing this blog. For quite a few years I posted very regularly, recording a lot of the minutiae of my life—daily walks, art projects, travel and the small things happening around me. Then Facebook came along and the little day to day stuff ended up there, instead of on the blog, but I hung onto to the blog for the things I most wanted to remember. It was always my backup memory. Ray would say “What was the name of that wonderful old hotel where we stayed in Cheyenne?” A quick search of the blog brought up, not only the name and the date, but photos and the story of that trip. I’ve never kept a journal until I started blogging and it became my journal.
I’m interested in memory—what we remember and what we forget. Can memory be trusted? It astounds me sometimes how two people, remembering a shared experience, will remember it so differently. There are times, in my life, that I tell myself, “I MUST remember this”—how it looked, or made me feel. Or I just know, “I WILL remember this.”
Right now, in the seventh month of this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder how this time in our lives will be remembered. I wonder, especially, how my grandchildren, and other children will remember it. Will they remember the hardship of missing school and friends, the boredom of that? Will there be pleasant memories of the adults in their lives efforts to compensate for what their children are missing? Are they fully aware of what is actually happening in the world outside their own small worlds? Even I, old as I am, have a hard time taking it in. Will I remember being afraid? I don’t think so, even though I’m sure if this was fiction I was reading I would imagine the characters being in terror of the threat of death by way of a highly contagious virus. I look back on the past seven months as something of a blur of days, pretty much one the same as the next. I think of the only real change within our home being the basket of masks and hand sanitizer by the front door at the ready for the occasional foray out into the world.
Every morning I sit in my chair with my coffee and my iPad and I view the world from here. I am often angry at the poor response our government has made to our safety. I am often angry at the foolish actions of stupid people whose actions are prolonging the epidemic. I wonder if my main memory of this time will be my anger, but then I am moved by the goodness of so many, by the creativity and cleverness that has been born in ways of coping and thriving through all of this and I am entertained and distracted by the vast well of humor that the sheer awfulness of the moment has inspired. I live for the next Randy Rainbow video! So life in the time of pandemic is a mix of rage, and inspiration with the wonderful grace of at least one good laugh a day. And it has become a kind of “normal” that I never envisioned. Ray and I often remind each other how lucky we are—for health and security and family— things it is too easy to take for granted. On certain days, not too often, I look up from the iPad and the enormity of what is happening washes over me and I really feel the horror and despair of where we are. I feel the tragedy of all the death and suffering. It is huge. I don’t want to remember, but I know we will never forget and I believe the perspective of time will allow us to understand just how tragically significant this year has truly been. And, may it be only this year and not an ongoing condition.
How will I feel when I read this next year? In 5 years? Maybe in 10 years 2020 will be a blip on the radar or maybe it will have been the year that changed everything.
And so it goes...