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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Times of Covid

We slept in this morning which was a welcome surprise. Lately, I’ve seen lots of articles stating that people are having strange dreams during the pandemic. I don’t even bother to click the link – the headline is enough to tell me the I’m in good company. For a while, I was having dreams where I was lost – unsure about which of many ostentatious hotel banks to take to my room which I wasn’t sure how to get to. Another time, I was lost at college – the classrooms and offices having switched. Another time, I was lost at a hospital. I googled “dreams about being lost” and learned that dreams about being lost or searching for something “usually denote anxiety”. They evoke feelings of confusion and frustration, or even a sense of feelings you don’t fit in.” Once, I dreamed that Andrea and I traveled to Centralia, Illinois – a place my family and I lived a few years, when I was in Kindergarten to third grade. When I arrived at our old home, in my dream, the exterior of the home we lived in looked familiar but run down and disrepair. I gained entrance to the home and kept saying to the child inhabitant, “Oh! This is just like when I lived here.” Only it didn't. The kid was sleeping in a cramped space under stairs that hadn’t been there and the house was crammed with items that didn’t belong where they were placed, like a small kitchen island in the living room. We drove around the town and much of it didn’t look familiar but every once in a while, I recognize a familiar landmark – like the McDonald’s around the corner from our old home. Last night, I dreamed that Andrea and I were seated next to one another and handed hair color in a small cup and given a brush that we were instructed to apply to our hair. I hesitated and Andrea applied the color to the side of her hair.

“Wait!” The person who had handed her the color said, “I gave you the wrong color!”

I was then instructed to color the hair of a woman with white hair. When I later saw her, I hated the fact she had permitted me to darken her hair. It looked awful and yet she was happy.

Crazy dreams are not something I’ll miss from the times of COVID. But, if I am to be honest, it hasn’t been all bad. This morning, while Andrea and I drank coffee on our deck, we talked about things we’ve come to appreciate or enjoy during this time. The pandemic has honestly pumped the breaks on our busybusybusy life. What were we so busy doing? I don’t know – but what I do know is that now, I watch a bumblebee’s erratic flight patch and hear his buzz and hum while birds chatter and sing. I watch an Indigo Bunting at the bird feeder, or squirrels chasing one another. All things that would not have captured my attention before. The break from the busy has given me time to get my hands dirty – planting wildflower seeds, raising a tomato gifted to me as seed. I take the time to take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the smell of the earth, things blooming, and the way the air changes as storms roll in across the mountain tops. How lovely it is to spend time outside just enjoying it – not cleaning the pool or working on a project but instead, watching birds, cooking on the grill, reading, writing.

We’ve saved money by ditching our Dunks’ habit. Although yesterday, Andrea ventured the 6 miles to the Dunkin’ Donuts closest to us. Where we lived in Hudson, MA, there were at least 3 Dunkin’ Donuts – and the town wasn’t that big. Somehow – all three shops seemed to thrive. Andrea came home with her iced coffee and my cold brew coffee. I took a large sip.

“Hey! This is sweet tea! Try it!” I said, while scrutinizing the sticker on the side of the cup that proclaimed it cold brew. Andrea complied – sure enough.

Today – the sun beat down on us today as we set up our planter box. I was inspired to make sun tea. While we drove home with our new sun tea pitcher, I thought of how when I was growing up, my friend’s mom always had tea in their refrigerator. It was sweetened with some sort of liquid saccharine. Years later, when this same friend was fighting for her life against the cancer that would later take her from us far too young, she would ask me, “Why do you think I got cancer? Was it because I tanned a lot when I was younger? Or maybe the chemicals in the hair color? Do you think it was that liquid saccharine?” I would say I didn’t know – because I didn’t. And what did it really matter? Whatever it was that caused her cancer was fucking bullshit – plain and simple. Later, after this friend's passing, her mom unfriended me on Facebook. A woman whose home I'd spent so much time in, drinking her sweet tea. I didn’t even feel surprised by the unfriending – what an assault! Me alive and her daughter very much no longer alive. I didn't blame her – we had both sat, helplessly, in my friend's living room, bearing witness to the end. A bond that broke us – not strengthened us.

It’s funny the memories that leap to our minds unbidden.

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