Pour me some wine, but leave the bottle close by; I’ll need a refill shortly. Do y’all feel as tired as I do? I’m exhausted from trying to keep my family safe and healthy. I’m worn out fighting for masks in my son’s school in front of a school board that is determined to do nothing. I’m weakened by the thought of exposing my mother, who is hitting a milestone birthday this year, to COVID-19. I’m bone-weary of hearing the anti-vax and anti-mask crowd spew their misinformation and conspiracy theories. I’m wasted, thoroughly wasted, over a virus that has managed to do what racism, classism, ageism, colonialism, sexual prejudice, and homophobia have strived for over and over but never achieved, aside from the Civil War (and the nationalists who will swear it wasn’t about slavery at all, but states’ rights): fractured our nation.
Gently pick up that bottle and slowly pour a bit more cool, crisp vino for me. I am worn out. I don’t understand a nation that will put a seatbelt on or step outside a restaurant to smoke, but who not only adamantly refuses to put a protective barrier between their germs and the general public, but feels as if doing so is a violation of their God-given right. (And that they think you should only believe in their version of God, too).
Maybe just one more glass and I can relax enough to drift in a soft cloud of escape from a reality where we’re living the worst and most fatal massacre of Americans in history save the Civil War (750K) and the thirty year span of the AIDS epidemic (700K) while rapidly approaching the total deaths of the 1918 “Spanish” Flu (675K), oh yes, only 25K more to catch up to that number. With these aggressive variants we’ll surpass that last pandemic in no time.
What the hell, just fill my glass again. I need liquid courage to look at the number of new, active coronavirus cases in my son’s school. Some pot-valor to face the facts, and chase off the melancholia of knowing my mother will need to continue isolating in her home outside of a small town, secluded yet safe. It’s draining to her mental wellbeing, but a living and depressed parent is better than a dead one, can I get an amen?
There’s no returning to “normal,” at this point. We’ll have to build on what we’ve learned, and what some ignore. The days of joyfully dancing amid a close group at a club, sweaty bodies leaning on one another, hands snaking around waists, feeling the bass and drums like a primal heartbeat while we throw back our heads and laugh through the exhilarating thrum of it all, or standing preternaturally still, enraptured by a captivating voice raised in song in a crowded concert hall, with nary a thought of contagion are long gone. That ship has sailed, along with my last drops of wine. The world’s gone fuzzy, and my physical self has softened, but alas, my mind is clear and the point is driven home: decampment does not come with decanting. However reluctantly, we will all end up facing this issue in time, and eventually will craft our new normal. We will plow ahead, and hope that medicine outpaces the unwillingness to aid others, that treatment will improve, and perhaps a cure may be discovered, and we can move past the selfishness that leads some to decry any sort of safeguards as an infringement of their freedom. I need more wine.