“For Though Ill Winds Blow, You Are Not Alone…”

This month has been a Very Long Century.  I was originally planning to share the long-lost “Annotated Excerpt from the Book of Lemminations”, that I excavated from the caverns of my writing past but realized, to my horror, that it’s depressingly prescient of the current situation (it was written in 2007) and just, ugh.  Not right now.  Maybe later, when we aren’t in the middle of an apocalypse.

So, how are you all holding up?  Everyone staying home (or at least avoiding humans), hydrating, and keeping up on their self-care?

I’m more or less sticking home, and I am absolutely climbing the walls.  I did go for a drive last Friday that ended up being just a wee little bit longer than I was intending it to be.  I sort of got kidnapped by a highway and accidentally ended up out in the Berkshires of Way Western Massachusetts.  It turns out that there’s a 30 mile stretch of nothing after Exit 3 on the Mass. ‘Pike, which I had been unaware of.  Oops?  In retrospect, I should have known the drive was not going to go according to plan when I wasn’t able to stop and visit the old hospitality god’s shrine to leave a small offering as I meant to.  There was someone there, and in these complicated times I didn’t wish to disturb them, and so passed by, whispering a greeting to the god as I went.

The roads are an odd place to be these days.  It’s still early in the year here in New England, so a warm, sunny day would normally have a fair amount of traffic and the sidewalks should be crowded with people, and they really aren’t.  This is both good and terrifying.  Places like Sturbridge are usually crowded with people visiting the living history museum of Old Sturbridge Village or exploring the dozens of antique shops, and being terrible, rubber-necking tourist drivers, but instead, they are nearly ghost towns.  It’s heartbreaking and I found myself almost wishing for a damned tourist driving 5 miles an hour.  Almost.  I grew up in a town where the roads to the ocean and the White Mountains intersect, and so I have a special dislike of that, but still…it’s a familiar aggravation and I found myself missing them. Who knew the things one would find unexpectedly comforting?

It’s easy these days, looking at the news, and seeing all of the people who aren’t following social distancing and self-quarantining protocols, and feeling angry and defeated. Myself, I’m choosing to “look for the helpers”, as it were.  The empty streets that speak of how many are taking things seriously and taking precautions for themselves, and for others.  The rainbows drawn on sidewalks in chalk, or with markers and taped to windows that whisper of people wanting to brighten each others lives.  The signs, both on business billboards and handwritten on cardboard on people’s lawns, that share encouragement or silly jokes or just a reminder that “We are here.  You are not alone. We love you.”.

I drove through towns where I have passed before where I had seen flags and signs that broke my heart at the hatred they vomited into the world, that have been removed or replaced with encouragements.  I don’t have illusions that they have magically changed their ways, but still I have hope that this has changed their hearts and when we have moved on down the road from here that they will be better than they were.  It’s a small hope, but it’s one I’m clinging to.  Stranger things, after all, have been known to happen.

To be honest, I really don’t want the world to go back to the way it was before this.  The way things were were so badly broken and this is just highlighting how dysfunctional “normal” was.  This is as bad as it is, because of how bad things were before.  No, I do not want to go back to that.  I want us, instead, to build a new normal.  A better normal.  One that doesn’t leave people behind.  One that makes sure that everyone has what they need to not just merely survive, but to thrive.  I think we have an opportunity to do it right now, to completely change course and go down a different, better road, and I want us to do it.  I know I’m working for it.

I’ve been painting a bunch of smol monsters and sharing them on social media this past week.  I’m trying to get to a point where I can share one a day, to give people at least a brief moment of cuteness.  I haven’t exactly succeeded on that goal, because anxiety disorders are eating my brain, but I’m trying at any rate. (Side note:  if there’s a monster you’ve seen me share and you do want it, all of them are $25, plus $5 for shipping. I’m working on getting them up in the shop, but you don’t have to wait for that…just ping me and we’ll work it out.)  I should probably create a hashtag for them to make them easier to track down, now that I think of it.  That would be smart, or something.

That’s it for now.  Time to go get dinner started and then work on painting more monsters or maybe a nice Foxentree.  Hope that all is well with you and yours.  Be well, my loves.

In parting, please enjoy this moment of feline harmony…