I write now from the inside of someplace.
Today felt like some kind of beginning.
We’ve been staying inside our one-bedroom apartment, my twin six-year-old girls alternately cackling and screaming at each other. This evening, I compulsively took my temperature.
Each time I go to the bathroom, I count the squares of toilet paper I’m using.
Every time I look in the pantry, I tally the tins of fish we have stocked. One, two, three. That’s it. We have beans. We also have good friends.
I think of Monday when the girls will not go to the school that we all love. I think of myself, trying to teach a workshop that day maybe, after therapy if it’s actually happening, riding the train all the way out to Queens…?
I don’t want to do it this way.
I have no job. Last week, I had lots of jobs. As of Thursday evening, I have no job. Last week, many of us had lots of jobs. Now, I have no jobs. Not one.
I burn a little cedar branch. Thank you.
Today the sun was shining as my daughters and I walked outside (no touching anything, no touching face, no picking up anything off the street). We walked on the sunny side of the street and felt the sun. I felt my body adjust us all around other people as we walked. We walk around each other, for each other. The girls and I brought a book to a friend. After we pushed the buzzer to her apartment, she buzzed and, without touching the door, I pushed it open with my foot and set the book inside. The book is called “Recollections of My Non-Existence” and I’m still in the middle of reading another book by the same author called “The Faraway Nearby.” Her name is Rebecca Solnit. You may know her and, if not, you should. If I were diving into words in the way she often likes to do, I’d share that upon a very casual internet search, it seems the name Rebecca is said to mean “to tie” or “to bind.” Last Tuesday evening, I made the choice to go to hear and see her at a theater in Brooklyn, in a crowd of a few hundred people. The women moved around one another carefully, giving way, allowing distance between one another. On the third floor of the theater in an enormous and empty old ballroom was the bar. One bartender stood, wearing latex gloves, picking up the already-poured wine and passing it to me, both of us hand sanitizing afterwards.
In the theater, which used to be a temple, I had two empty seats beside me. I listened to Rebecca speak, I recorded her words using my phone so that my friend, who conscientiously was beginning her practice of social distancing, could later listen to her wisdom. Near to the end of the conversation, during the questions-from-the-audience part of the night, there was a woman who I’d watched furiously taking notes throughout the talk. She was first in line at the mic and began by stating, with tremor and rawness in her voice —
“I come from a zealously, neo-liberal family, whose matriarch is named Patricia and her daughter is also named Patricia, as is her daughter’s daughter and I would ask for your advice on how to navigate that, but I suddenly feel that you both possess all the wisdom and the fuck you energy that I need. So my question is — –[her voice breaks here and now she’s crying hard]
RS: Oh, that’s ok. We are not in a rush here.
My question is whether you might be able to hashtagbelieveme in this moment and believe that I need all the wisdom and fuck you energy that this world has to offer.
RS: Would you like us all to shout fuck you to your chosen target? — — We can do a fuck you, patriarchy I think, as a collective. 1, 2, 3, Fuck you, patriarchy!”
On my lock screen of my phone I keep an image of a collage — two hands use a rope to tie a loose knot around a bright star, among a sky of smaller stars. I chose it because I like the idea of the cosmos being tied together. I like the idea of the cosmos being tied together.
I like the idea of together. I don’t want to do it this way, but I will.