Tuesday, June 15, 2021

a moment in the day: enough

Birthdays in the social media era. Stephen is downstairs whipping cream (I can hear that scraping buzz of beaters against bowl) and I'm sitting at the computer going through my newsfeed, thanking people for their sweet greetings. 

There's a lot you can say about the negatives of social media, but on your birthday, it's a lovely parade of people. You scroll and like, scroll and comment, and it's a little like getting birthday cards but moremoremore, and all I can think is, look at all of these people I've been privileged to know. It's kind of like when they say your life flashes in front of your eyes, but it's all your people flashing in front of your eyes. And you don't have to die. 

When I was a kid, when I was a young adult, all I felt like was a loser. I wonder how I would have felt about myself had I had the chance to sit and watch this parade of people each stop by to say hello.


I keep thinking about that thing President Biden said in his inauguration speech. It's funny. The pomp and excitement of that day is a blur now, but I always remember three words he said. Enough of us

I can't even remember exactly what he was talking about, now, but I remember how that phrase made me stop. And think. And write it down.

Alright, I'm looking it up now. He said, "In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward."

He was talking about the Civil War, the Great Depression, World Wars, 9/11. He was talking about racism and nationalism and maybe the pandemic too. With all the negativity in the country, with all the negativity in all the people in the country, there's always been enough of us who strive to do the right thing. Just those three words made me feel better about the country I was living in. And now, sitting here scrolling through, watching this parade of lovely people, I think, yeah, you all are the enough of us.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

a moment in the day: group

Steve and I walk down the hall to Liz' loft just like old times, just like before the pandemic, heading to writing group together. 

Everything in this corridor looks crisp and new. The bright raspberry-painted wall at the end by her door: is that the same color as it used to be? Every step of this familiar walk, that Steve and I have taken once a month for years, seems both beautifully old-hat and utterly new somehow.

I push open Liz' door and we walk through. Voices inside. My breath swells against my ribcage. This is our first non-Zoom meeting and my first unmasked, undistanced gathering since the before times. I hurry my step down the short front hall and then here we are—Steve, Liz, Kathleen, me—all fully-vaxxed, all crowded together at the edge of the kitchen doing something we haven't done in so long. Hugging. 

Liz' black curls tickle my face. Kathleen holds too tight and too long and too wonderful. I don't want to let go. 

When I do, she tells us she and her son hugged so hard once that it started to cut off the circulation in her neck and, still mid-clasp, she told him, "I think I'm going to pass out." And did.

Stories bounce back and forth between us as we move into the living room where Robert is waiting remotely on Zoom from his home out of town. "Robert!" I say. His face so small on the little laptop screen.

I drop my bags and take the plastic container of appetizers back across the room for warming in the kitchen nook where Liz and Kathleen have returned, chatting as they try to work the top off a bottle of pink wine. I come around behind them at the counter. Their backs to me. 

"No, we used to do it all the time when I was a kid," Liz is saying. "For fun. Like all the time."

"And there's that thing," Kathleen says, "where people do it for a sexual high."

I pull the top off my tupperware container just enjoying listening to snippets of their conversation. I realize they're still on the ways in which cutting off the circulation can make someone pass out.

"There's a name for that."

"Autoerotic... asphyxiation."

I dip my head in between them. "So, here I am, my very first unmasked, undistanced get-together, and what are we talking about? Autoerotic asphyxiation."

And this might be—not sure but might be—even better than the hugs. Laughing together in person again.