On March 27th, 2020, I began drafting the following post … which has been collecting proverbial dust in this electronic filing cabinet for over three years, now:
We are mostly quarantined right now; at least, I’m trying to keep us under quarantine because Mr. Boo is high risk. We don’t have control over the kids’ environment when they leave here, but we’ve decided to accept that level of risk so that we don’t have to give up seeing them for who knows how long.
Most of my time has been focused on school work, professional projects, and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That last one is really the only thing keeping me sane right now. I can patiently wait for the fish to bite, spend an hour crafting a meticulous dress pattern, sit on the rocks and watch the stars on a beautiful little tropical isle of my own making.
One thing I haven’t been doing is checking in on the world via social media on a regular basis, and I’m pretty fucking happy that I’m not. To read the opinions and thoughts of some people on there is infuriating. But I guess that I can’t really fault them; there has been a focused war waged against objective reason for a few decades now, and many people are the unwitting cannon/canon fodder, caught in the crossfire. So I can be irritated and pissed at the ignorance, but blaming individuals for it feels like getting pissed off at a toddler who doesn’t grasp the concept of irrational numbers.
One thing I have been doing is reading, reading, reading. I have a lot of reading to do for my classes, but I’ve also been reading books, articles, poetic ruminations, even dictionaries. Reading has always shaped my world and, tucked away in this quarantine house, it is my guide. And what it reminds me of is the fact that, at its core, we founded our first societies thousands of years ago as a method of protection, as shelter from a variety of storms — both literal and figurative.
It is so strange to read that, now. Not only are we at the normalized stage of the pandemic — for better or for worse — but I am now divorced, rarely see my children, living in a strange limbo house with two rowdy dobie-pits, trying to figure out a way forward.
It’s also strange to read because, after a few solid, devoted months to playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I kind of wavered a bit … school, and life, and homeschooling, and trying to navigate my failing marriage, and coping with my estranged father living in my basement for eight months meant that I just didn’t get back to it on a regular basis. It didn’t provide the same solace.
But now it does. When I gave everything up a few weeks ago, when I waived the white flag and just said, “sorry, y’all, I have to stop,” I picked AC:NH up again. And that finely tuned landscape, with its tiny goals and silly animal friends, has provided a method of active meditation that has enabled me to get my mind right. Or, at least, righter.
(Yes, that’s a word.)
Reading back on that half-composed entry from over three years ago, I can’t help but wonder: Would I do anything differently? My therapist asked me that a lot as I was going through my divorce: Since you now know that the end result of your actions is your divorce, would you change the way that you did things?
And I know that I wouldn’t. I prioritized my kids, I prioritized the most vulnerable, during a global pandemic, and I wouldn’t, couldn’t do anything different. I would and always will prioritize the most vulnerable over everything else. So, no; as much as it sucks to be kicked to the curb and divorced by someone I trusted, I wouldn’t change a thing — because I know, in my soul, that I was true to myself. So I have to be okay with how it ended. And, largely, I am. In fact, I’m actually quite grateful.
But in my focus on the vulnerable, I feel terrifically human. Our first societies were founded to protect those who could do so the least. In numbers, there is safety; there is a community of care inherent. And while we are all witnessing the soul-sucking reckoning of American Rugged Individualism(tm) playing out in our sociopolitical landscape, if even one of us can put our ego aside, then we are not forsaken.
As long as one of us keeps the light on, we’ll be okay. Right?