I have been tested for COVID six times now. I imagine that number will climb to a total of nine for 2020. I’ve flown to Mexico, having tested negative for the sixth time four days ago. I’ll get tested upon return. And if I go home to New York for Christmas, I suspect I’ll test before and after that trip, too. I’m getting so tired of tests that it makes me want to forfeit returning home for the holidays, which is just absurd. Of course going home is worth a couple more nasal swabs. But part of me just wants to forgo the stress of the airports and contact with so many others; to just hole myself up in one place, spending time with only a small cohort of people, and not too often. It certainly unburdens me of all the necessary COVID mitigation. But that’s just 2020 for you.
Life just gets more abnormal by the day. Though I’ve regained some normalcy by returning to work from furlough, I’ve felt like a whirlwind for the last month with no footing. I basically only spent a week and a half of October in my own apartment, between dog-sitting, visiting friends in Moab and Durango, and now heading to Mexico. Suddenly Halloween is less than a week away, Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner, and I couldn’t tell you where I’ll be for either.
I spent an hour journaling about the developments in my life from the last month, highlighting how ungrounded I’ve been over the last 30 days. I somewhat forgot that this blog even existed. That said, I did take occasional note of little things that have amused me here and there. So here’s a brief collection of observations amid the chaos.
I didn’t bother bringing a notebook on my Mexico trip, so I elected to journal on a Word doc. Back on my work computer, I couldn’t recall if I already had some sort of journal document created. I scrolled through some folders and landed on a doc I had titled “pandemic musings.”
It wasn’t much, but it was a little trippy to read these few blurbs from clearly the very beginning of the pandemic, mid to late March. I wrote about losing track of time (still am). I bitched about how ridiculous it was to be planning the Olympic Games when they were clearly going to be postponed (it still feels ridiculous to plan at times, though I am more confident that the show will go on). And then a thought to get a tattoo of a song lyric on my arm (sorry mom and dad … but that desire still holds. #Happy24thbirthdaytome?)
I suppose what’s funny about those three “musings” is that so much and so little has changed, simultaneously. We are still in this freaking mess. It’s not ending any time soon. The only difference is that we’ve accepted that we’re in it, and we don’t care. The country is just one gigantic sh*tstorm, between the election, COVID, wildfires, racial injustice, and so on. So we’ve done what we Americans do: shown complete indifference and continued to do whatever the hell we want. We recognize there’s no deadline to this nightmare, so we’re just going to live it. As pathetic as it may be, I don’t see any other viable option in a country as divided as ours.
In the vein of embracing this new normal, I finally returned to my climbing gym. What a flipping relief. I genuinely don’t know how I had gone so long without my greatest passion. The first day I returned, I felt a renewed energy in my step, walking to the gym on the same familiar blocks, just from a new starting point. I passed the Italian restaurant diagonally across from the gym and laughed out loud when I read the words printed on the door, clearly pre-pandemic: “Linger and Mingle.”
“Linger and Mingle” can’t quite touch an even funnier display that my roommate, Joe, and I saw a week prior. We were on our way to camp and climb in the South Platte. As we pulled off Highway 24 and headed to Rampart Range Road, I came to a stop and looked to my left. There sat a building with maybe four establishments. The two businesses I saw listed, side by side? “Woodland Butcher Block” and “The Little Baby Station.”
Despite all the weird vibes I’ve been feeling, there’s been at least some predictability in my life: namely, my dad’s love for Billy Joel. I called him a couple days ago, and after a lot of muffled fumbling, he picked up. He apologized for the delay, explaining how he was trying to watch the puppy but also really wanted to listen to the Billy Joel channel, so he had the car radio running. His phone’s Bluetooth got mistakenly connected to the car, ergo, I couldn’t hear anything when he talked into his phone, as he was seated outside.
What was so comforting about this whole thing was just how predictably Steve it was. Even more so knowing that this is something I myself would 100% do. The number of times I have engineered my life around live music like this? Innumerable. My heart felt a little warmer just thinking of Steve out on the driveway, laughing to himself at Billy’s quips and remembrances in between songs, cursing the dumbasses who voted Rosalinda’s Eyes as high as #49 out of the top 88 cuts. Stay golden, Stevie Ray.
Of course, there’s some joy in the unpredictability of life right now as well. I have recently been struggling with a severe lack of female friends in Colorado Springs. All of my girl friends have left me, and I am left with essentially four male friends in close proximity. And it’s brutal, not gonna lie. Girl friends are crucial for dare I say everyone’s health and security. So it was an absolute joy when my friend Nina invited me to climb with her and some others in Moab. Not only was it amazing to reconnect with her, it was such a blessing to go climbing with another woman again. My soul was restored.
And then, as luck would have it, the restoration continued! As I departed Indian Creek, I headed back east through Durango, where I stayed with my friend Sydney. Sydney and I became friends in year one of college, but she decided not to return to school after that year for health reasons. When I got to her house, we quickly determined we hadn’t seen each other in a year and four months. So we did what any friends would do: we gave each other our own 5-minutes synopsis of the past year of our lives. It was shockingly effective. Having caught each other up, we were back to chatting and laughing as if we’d been hanging out all this time. God, girl friends are the best.