Something happened on August 18, 2019. I don’t know if it was funny or sad or infuriating or even interesting. But apparently it was important enough for me to write about.
And then something else happened. I don’t know what that was either, but it was enough of a distraction for me to immediately stop whatever I started writing about.
Something also happened on March 12, 2020. I saw the future. That week included the loss of an hour on the 8th, a full “worm” moon on the 9th, and a Friday the 13th. I joked about it the weekend before, but by Thursday, I realized that the world, and life as we knew it, was about to change forever. And on March 13th, I canceled a trip to New York City, and went into quarantine along with millions of other people whose lives had suddenly changed as well.
I am a planner, so like anything else I planned for this. When I saw the writing on the wall, I made a handful of trips to the grocery store to make sure our pantry was stocked. As luck would have it, I had recently ordered a case of 48 rolls of my favorite toilet paper so I was blissfully unaffected by the shortage caused by hoarding.
In another twist of fate, the computer at my office was in a death spiral, so I had ordered a new computer… this time a laptop with a docking station so I could work remotely, something I had wanted to do for the last two years with all my traveling. Now I would be able to work from home. Once the quarantine was into its second month, docking stations (along with anything “home office” related) were scarce. Again, I was lucky.
The universe (and Doofenshmirtz) had also seen fit to force my hand when it came to a desk. Over the years, I had coveted a beautiful writing desk from one of the catalogs that showed up in my mailbox from time to time. It was expensive, and I didn’t have a dedicated “office”, so it remained on the pages of that catalog. In the beginning, it was available in three different shades of wood. I didn’t care for the very dark or the whitewashed. I only liked the one that reminded me of honey.
As the years went by, the dark wood option vanished. Then the whitewashed option disappeared. I didn’t panic, since the desk that still greeted me was my favorite. But in late February, it showed up with a sale price listed. A SALE PRICE! Don’t mistake those capitalized letters for excitement. I am not a sale shopper. No, those letters signify full-on panic. I realized that the only reason this desk was on sale was most likely because they were discontinuing it. I had to have it. I paced the house, looking for a place for it. I took measurements. There were discussions. It was decided that it was, ultimately, too large and there was no space for it in the house. I was disappointed, and as I relayed the story to Doofenshmirtz over coffee one morning, she looked at me square in the eye and said, “Momma, if you don’t buy that desk by Friday, I will buy it for you and you can’t stop me.” I knew she was serious, so I made the call. Three days later, my beautiful writing desk arrived and it managed to fit perfectly in the room where I enjoy writing the most.
So when the world changed, I thought how lucky I was to have my writing space all carved out. I would have plenty of time for writing! And oh, by the way, my new desk could double as my home office during quarantine.
Side bar: I had also been walking/running 6 miles a day for a 2020 challenge. I have a wonderful treadmill, so I considered myself lucky to be able to continue the challenge at home during my time of isolation. Confession: I have not been on it once since March 13th.
The reality of working from home set in, and my writing laptop found itself tucked away in its grey tweed travel case. There simply wasn’t room for it on the honey-colored desk, which was now covered with my new laptop and all the accessories I had dragged home from the office. I felt a little guilty, since the only time I ever put her in her case was right before our flights to New York. I imagine she was looking forward to sitting with me in Madison Square Park, or in a coffee shop while we created stories about life and love and laughter. When I pulled her out of her case last week for a Zoom Birthday Party for Skotchdopole, I am sure she was surprised and disappointed to find she was not under a New York City sky.
So if you are still with me, I suppose you get the point. I haven’t been writing. When I saw the future, I saw what it could (should) be, not what it wouldn’t be. It turns out it has not been days of luxuriously sleeping in, with morning runs on the treadmill followed by healthy eating and hours of writing.
Working remotely from home is not the same as working remotely from New York. I am not around people. I am interacting with my residents without interacting with them in person. I am calling and FaceTiming friends with nothing much to say. Discussions about the trials and tribulations of curbside shopping, wearing a mask, and what new shows we are watching only holds so much interest. I have watched birds and planted flowers and listened to music. I have argued with friends about politics, pandemics and conspiracy theories. And I am done.
I have stayed home. And I have not written. Because observational humor comes from observing something. Anything. And writing about brunch with family, drinks with friends, concerts and travel requires experiencing it. The memories are no longer enough.
Even as I type this, I am disgusted by how often I have typed the word “I”. If I were you, I wouldn’t read this either. You’ve got your own troubles. But how would I know this? Social media? Nope. Because all the sugar-coating can’t disguise the fear of real life right now. It’s scary out there. We talk about the truth, we avoid the truth, or we don’t talk at all. And not one of those options is a good one right now.
Of course things will get better. They always do. Anyone who has ever met me knows I can Pollyanna my way through almost anything. Almost. But I am not patient. It took nine weeks to realize that no one is coming to save me. Subjects worth writing about won’t magically materialize while I’m moping around feeling sorry for myself. This cannot be an impossible situation because I don’t believe in impossible. And while I realize that the dark days of limitations are far from over, I refuse to let that determine my future. Immediate or otherwise.
Something happened on August 18th, 2019. I know this because when I cleared a space on my honey-colored desk this morning, and opened my writing laptop, I clicked on a blog from that day labeled “Untitled” in my Drafts folder and discovered I had written only one word: “Today”. That was all. I hadn’t given it a proper title, but I hadn’t deleted it. It was important enough to keep, and whatever distraction happened next was important enough to pull me away.
I could speculate what it might have been. I could flip through my Day Planner to try and figure it out. But what it was doesn’t matter. What matters is I had something to write about, and I had something to distract me. I felt entitled enough to write untitled blogs.
I realize that, for now at least, I no longer have the luxury of life happening before my eyes. Somewhere between my morning coffee and evening wine, I am going to have to carve out a life worth writing about.
Something happened on May 17, 2020.