Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
Last month—which feels like years ago now—I was on my way out of my health club, freshly showered from a vigorous workout, feeling amazing, fully charged, and ready to tackle my day.
An older man chatting at the counter stopped me and asked me point-blank, “Who are you? I see you walk by me every day and you look like somebody I should know.”
His question startled me. It made me stop and think for a minute. Who I show to the world and who I really am don’t necessarily jibe all the time, that’s for sure. Can you relate?
Who am I? Still working on that. But, I can tell you who he saw. He saw a fairly confident middle-aged woman on her way to work at a job she loves but also loves to occasionally catch a break away from. A job she now misses tremendously.
He saw an imperfect mother and wife. A messy human, a complicated spirit, a product of nurture and nature, and all that percolates within the gray areas of those two entities. He saw a woman who laughs like her dad, and dances like her mom. He saw a woman who idolizes her long deceased grandmother, whom she misses tremendously. He saw a woman who needed to get her roots done (still does!), a woman hanging on to her youthful spirit for dear life (still is!). Someone maybe a little like you: bold and outspoken at times, rupturing like a volcano, but also reserved, hesitant with her assertions, ignorant of all the facts, and often intimidated by “smarter others” who clearly do their homework instead of binge-watching Netflix. A swinging pendulum of a person, just trying get through her day.
He also saw a woman who still carefully applies layers of makeup to hide the “weathered” circles and blotches. A woman who is monitoring the sands of time like a security guard, watchful but asleep at the wheel most days. An achy woman with back problems who has been told by a myriad of “expert others” to strengthen her core and her pelvic floor.
A woman unafraid of the truth. Someone dirty, flirty, and brash. A soon-to-be 52-year-old, which seriously sucks, but a person who knows the alternative on either end has no appeal.
I’m also a woman who feels all the feels and writes them all down. I cry watching sappy commercials. I have unearthed and worked through many of my personal, buried hurts. I am a generous friend. I stay open. I cut lots of slack and usually give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I make mistakes, but I spread kindness and take the high road like it’s my job (most of the time). My heart has been broken. I like attention. I like being quiet too, and I retreat sometimes. I don’t like the way I feel when I drink too much. I’m never late. If I’m late, you know something is wrong.
I am quick with a joke and I love to laugh, especially at myself. I’m a “pleaser.” Pleasing is my wheelhouse.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, I was both shallow and “of substance.” I had the luxury of switching gears, moods, and plans to suit my daily circumstances. Miraculously, I still have that luxury, I just do it from home now. I am humbled and grateful to be home.
Who am I? I think I am just like you—someone who doesn’t want this pandemic to kill my spirit, a spirit I’ve fought for, and one I’ve had to win back on more than one occasion. This virus is more than a finite challenge. People are dying. People like you and I are dying all over the world.
Collectively, we are all fully accountable for our decisions. I know that my current personal and “mandated requirement” is to hunker down, watch the news, and heed directives. I know that staying home is a luxury not afforded to my friends in the medical field, those who work in grocery stores, and all who are still servicing my needs. Staying home is the least I can do in this crisis. And while the threat of COVID-19 scares the living sh*t out of me, I have learned to employ a bit of humor and hope into every one of my holed up days.
I want to be the same woman, but I know I will be forever changed. I’ve already changed. When this is “over,” we will all be changed in ways we cannot begin to process right now. But I can say this without reservation: It’s not that I appreciate things more these days, it’s that I appreciate things, period.
Memories of my grandmother flood back to me in times of crisis and chaos. I now know why my grandmother stopped whatever she was doing to appreciate the sun. Why she looked at me with sweet tenderness and told me to stop complaining. I know why she recited the rosary every night before she fell asleep and why she savored her slow cooked German pot roast on Sundays.
I know why she rationed the chocolate ice cream. I know why she looked forward to the melodic din of birds in the morning, why she pined for the first green buds of spring. Why she wrote long letters, planted flowers, and made corn husk dolls for fun. I know why she got up and danced her ass off at every opportunity. Why, even in her last days, she refused to watch from the sidelines.
I know why she relished the profound gift of simply sitting in a chair, holding a baby, any baby. Over the years, lots of babies were placed tenderly into her arms. Her own four children. Her children’s nine children. Her children’s children’s 17 children. Exponentially, figuratively, and literally, we grew from her.
In tears, after failing my driver’s test, I know why my grandmother said, “in the bigger scheme of things, Kimmy, this is not important, you’ll see.”
She listened and observed more than she spoke. She worried about everything and everyone because she knew things could change in a blink. She was optimistic too, which was the best contradiction, and it’s what I can, in this moment, choose to employ as I fold laundry and repeatedly wash my hands.
In her eight decades on Earth, a series of devastating life events, (including countless wars and The Great Depression), changed my grandmother too. But she remained hopeful and vibrant, which is the truest testament to the power of the human spirit I can fathom.
Who am I?
Well, I do know this: My essence is the same, but I’m hanging onto my spirit by a thread. I’m not the same person I was a month ago.
Who are we?
The bigger question is: “After” COVID-19, who will we be?
How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.