Yesterday, I left my home to pick something up from the local hardware store. I passed a gas station and a large U-Haul was pulling out of their drive. I looked at the landmark emblazoned on the side panel of the truck and instinctively thought, “Hey. I know that landmark! Massachusetts!” and my eyes misted in recognition of the Lenny Zakim bridge in Boston, a landmark I watched being erected while living in the area. It was dedicated in 2002. How is it possible that so much time has passed? A thought that is jarring and, at the same time, comforting. In her 1999 book, All New People, Anne Lamott writes: ““...why do we make it all seem like a crisis, over and over again? Why do we worry it all to death, like dogs with socks or chew-toys? 'Look at it this way...In a hundred years? All new people.”
Today, I walked down to my basement to grab a plant mister. I’m trying to grow a little tomato plant that was gifted to me. As I walked through the basement, I imagined that one day, the worst of the COVID days will be behind us, instead of looming, and our friends Anne and Laurie will be on our couch down there, drinking wine. The four of us, Andrea, Anne, Laurie and myself will reminisce about these days, “Remember when…” and we will have forgotten parts of it because it was too much to commit to memory at the time. I will remember that even a pandemic couldn’t unite the fractured country but I’ll also cling to the good – to the helpers that Mr. Rogers urged us to look for during scary times.
Years ago, I worked for a different senior living provider and the co-founder of the company was brilliant and arrogant. I learned a lot there – about myself, simultaneously in the moment and in retrospect. As Soren Kierkegaard is famously quoted, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Anyway, the brilliant and arrogant co-founder knew an awful lot about the human brain and he once explained to me that in order to improve memory and learning, your brain forgets things on purpose. Often, forgetting names, skills, events or information is viewed as purely negative —in reality, research suggests that forgetting plays a positive role in the function of the brain. Which is why we will have to reminisce to collectively piece together what happened in the days of COVID. What we survived and witnessed.
Andrea and I continue to work from home. We are among the lucky ones – we know this and are grateful. I feel guilty about this blessing while I partner with senior living communities I am assigned to. I hope I’m making a small difference in some way. When we rolled out of Massachusetts on March 11th, I anticipated reuniting with colleagues in late March or early April. I never anticipated this – I miss those faces. The residents. The hum of the communities.
I’m grateful we had this time to settle into our house and to make it feel like home. It still feels like the “grown up” house that Andrea proclaimed it to be after we viewed it – but personalized and infused with more personality than the beige walls once contained. Light bulbs have been blowing out – a minor inconvenience that Andrea attributes to the energy shift within the home. Of more major inconvenience was that Andrea’s glasses blew out. She texted me a photo of them snapped in half at the bridge of the nose.
“What happened?!” I asked.
“I don’t know – they just broke. I was cleaning them – and not even rage cleaning!” She said, bewildered.
Of course, Lenscrafters back home is closed and Andrea’s voice mails have gone unanswered and her prescription is nowhere to be found among our things. A hazard of moving. Andrea’s fragile repair job gave way last night and the attempted to super glue them. She left them under a bowl, to safeguard them from the cats while they cured (in more ways than one). Sadly, this was ineffective, so she taped them together with black electrical tape this morning – looking as if she was ready for a walk on role in Revenge of the Nerds Quarantine! We found an eye exam place with a lab that could see her this afternoon. The time she was out of the home was the longest I’d been at home alone. Georgie gently snored and Kevin, the tortoise, gulped fresh water and the rain fell steadily outside. Earlier in the day, while I was on a conference call, Kevin flipped himself onto his back. I bolted out of my chair and righted him mumbling, “You’re lucky I’m here.” Another perk of working from home. The other day, Andrea excitedly burst into my office.
“Look at these sweatpants I found!” She exclaimed. “This is my mullet outfit!”
“Mullet outfit?!” I asked.
“Business on top, party on the bottom!” Andrea explained.
Mullet outfits. Yet another perk of working from home.