Drove through Reno last night.
This time last week, my husband and I were driving to have a spaghetti day.
By spaghetti day, I mean: there is a healing center in Reno I’ve been wanting to go to. I was scared to go by myself, and I really wanted to try a sensory deprivation float. For Valentine’s Day, they had a package with sauna, massage, and float. I bought it and scheduled it for March 14th on Feb 12th. I knew he really wouldn’t be interested in the float, but who isn’t interested in massage? With the massage carrot and gift implications, I roped him in.
At that point, schools had not yet closed, and businesses were business as usual. I had a feeling the world would be very different in a week and it would be our last taste of normal for a bit.
At the same time, last night at 7-11, I was joking around with a woman as she bought a bottle of wine and I got a case of beer and some milk. It didn’t feel any different than any other Friday except I felt more exhausted than my baseline exhaustion.
This week has been a lot, but I’ve seen more kindness than all the fear and everything else being pumped in the collective psyche.
I’ve seen lots of local businesses donating to food banks. Ive seen casinos giving their food to their employees. Ive seen businesses get creative, adaptive, and flexible. With no notice, they’ve been able to change their entire business model. I’ve seen online ordering for curbside cocktail pick up. Ive seen delivery services for cupcakes and fresh baked goods. I’ve seen businesses donate dinners and meals to healthcare workers. I’ve seen people share the last of limited supplies with others to help.
In all of this, we’re surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces. Yet, I’ve had people I barely know remind me if I need anything, to call as I sincerely say the same to them. I had my husband text our landlord because I wanted to make sure his mom was okay because I’ve adopted her as my Grandmom after an hour long gab session when I dropped off our rent check.
In all of this, I can choose to feel so small, overwhelmed, and scared. If we were still in Pa, I know where all of the hospitals are. I could drive to any of them practically with my eyes closed. I’d have to GPS the hospital. It’s an insignificant fact that drives home a black and white reality. There’s an entire country between familiar. No amount of social distancing has changed the fact we’re over 2k miles from the people we call home. And yet, here is home too. And if I let fear blind me, I’ll find more to be afraid of.
These pictures were haunting to see and feel. Seeing Reno so empty. Seeing the clown unlit. But at the same time, the Truckee looked so beautiful. The quietness was so nice. It’s as if we’ve been asked to look at those close to us and remember how much we need each other. Remember that your neighbor doesn’t just live next to you and is part of what makes home feel safe, warm, and peaceful.
There was a time that my mind convinced me everyone was going to kill me and I watched a woman’s face melt as she wished me a better tomorrow. It was a nightmare except I was awake. This all feels like then. I got through then by trying to focus on what felt sane and logical. I got through by writing this letter to me when I started getting sick and read it every day until I cracked my first joke:
On the other side of this, it becomes a story. One of all your stories that you love to tell. About how weird and screwed up your life has been. About how you somehow are alive despite your best efforts. There will be a day you will crack a joke about this. One day, you will laugh at this. One day, you can make other people laugh at this. It’s your gift.
You’re here for a reason just like everyone else. There’s a reason for this, just like everything else. You will learn from this, just like everything else. It may be worse than it has ever been, you may be more scared than you’ve ever been, but that is just because you’ve gotten stronger. Whatever this ends up being will end up being a funny story about how you got stronger. In the weirdest way possible. Like you’ve always done. Because you just get stronger and what doesn’t kill you makes you funnier.
On the other side of this, you will look back and say thank you. Just like the adoption, just like everything. You will laugh, because you love to make other people laugh. One day, the worst day of your life will be your favorite joke.
I love you