- TERESA’S THOUGHTS:
I live in Washington state which apparently is the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States. I have gone from believing I could carry on life as usual, to hunkering down at home for the foreseeable future.
The common threat of this virus makes our world seems smaller and more intimate to me. Instead of marching in streets to support one another, we are showing our solidarity by staying apart.
Truthfully, the reality of being homebound is unnerving. This isn’t like the occasional snow day closures where kids clamber outside enjoying frosty shenanigans before returning home to unthaw. This is different.
Even as baby, my mother said I liked routines. My fussiness subsided when she put me on a predictable schedule. I wonder if one reason I took to teaching is the orderly nature of each school day. I spent years creating schedules enabling students to feel secure. Maybe I also needed the security of knowing what was next. What is next now I wonder?
Although I admire those who are able to go with the flow, I am not made of that easy going material. I want ordered chunks of my day earmarked for certain tasks with plans A, B and C mapped out. I decided to make my own, “stuck-at-home” schedule.
This schedule includes time for me to write, write, write. Can I write another 20,000 words while doing my part to, “flatten out the curve?” Can I finish my great, great, great grandfather’s part of the story so I can begin telling my own?
I’m also going to work in my yard. An area of my yard which has been neglected for years has ivy boldly snaking up tree trunks. Wild blackberries sent wicked tentacles arching over shrubs shrouding the whole area in brittle canes and brutal thorns. I plain to reclaim the land and free the vegetation held hostage so it can breathe.
I’m going to keep moving my body. I love swimming. The supportive buoyancy and stillness when I submerge below the surface enable me to workout and meditate at the same time. With our pool’s closure I will instead jog on a quiet road near my house. I am intimidated to run on land, but drastic times call for drastic measures.
I have woven open times into my schedule and times for mundane tasks like vacuuming and taking the garbage out. Watching movies is the dessert at the end of each day. Cooking, naps, reading and a once a week errand run for essentials are penciled in. Though what are the essentials in a pandemic I wonder?
As much as I would like to keep it at bay, I anticipate I will also get bored. As a child, I would whine, “I’m bored!” I wanted my mom to fix it with activities and entertainment. Instead she replied, “only boring people are bored.” With nine children, I imagine boredom was the least of her concerns.
I am very fortunate. I do not have young children to care for because schools are closed. My housing is stable. My job is not requiring me to go into work. I have plenty of food and three pets ready to snuggle anytime.
This post hasn’t so much been about the process of book writing as it has been about the process of one human being trying to navigate the unknown.
And in that I know I am not alone.
WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK ABOUT WRITING:
I don’t know what the new normal will be on the other end of this pandemic. Will we have overreacted or underestimated? Will the story I am writing even be one people want to hear? Even if nothing comes of the book, for now typing words gives me something to focus on and for that I am grateful.
- EXCERPT FROM BOOK IN PROGRESS:
“The roots of my family tree are buried deep in the desert land protected by the Wasatch mountains near the lake seeped with salt. With each discovery I feel my grandfather taking form. Adding muscle, flesh, bone and hair. I take pride in belonging to a man so brave and well-loved who helped others in times of need. A leader who stood up for what he believed was right and just. An adoring father who handed out discipline in order to build moral character in the dozens of children he had. I imagine he rose each day before the sun and worked well past dark to provide food and shelter for his family. I like to think he found time to laugh.
In my favorite picture of him, he is wearing a gentleman’s suit with a velvet collar and silken striped tie. His thick beard and mustache descend like a coarsely textured waterfall from his nostrils. The hair on top of his head is swept up into one big curl reminding me of how a baby’s hair might be styled by an adoring parent. His eyes are filled with kindness and grit. I stare deeply into them which might be rude if we were strangers.
Initially I felt incredibly excited to find abundant evidence I came from somewhere. Proof existed I belonged. People loved me into existence. Family I will never meet toiled, seeded and harvested for me.
But as I stumbled upon more and more stories and pictures of him other feelings began to creep in. I felt greediness as if, I was taking too many slices of a birthday cake meant to share. I felt guilt at knowing while my belly was full, others would never be fed.
It is this uneasy duality of feelings I, as a white person, am beginning to understand is mine to carry.
For there are countless others, like my husband with black skin, whose lineage of knowing was ripped from them. Cruelly taken by people who look like me. People who felt righteous and justified in their most vicious theft of souls, bodies, families, names, languages, music, culture and community.”