New to me, in the last twelve months; I wake up at all hours of the night, read randomly, worry about the health of my friends and family, walk around, do a down dog, look at the moon and night sky, read some more. I gave in yesterday and made tea at 3:45am with a couple of Digestive biscuits. There are millions of words are out there to distract me, spinning in the pandemic stratosphere; blogs, essays, op-eds, chapters; emails, texts, tweets; letters, Facebook, Instagram. We all have our own late-night covid rabbit holes. I, for one, am on social media way too much. But then, how else would I have seen the unexpected, random, late-night messages sent from people I knew forty-plus years ago?
“Thought of you today when I was going through old photos. Tell me about your life.”
“Where are you?”
“I regret we did not stay in touch.”
I am impressed — this takes courage, to send out a touch across time and space. Extra courage to not come off as a creep. Who hasn’t been thinking about life, the past, friends we miss, maybe have not seen in forever? Pre-pandemic I might have ignored or blocked a name that I barely remembered. Now, in lockdown, the acute sensory/tactile/visual deprivation has made this moment a wrinkle in time. I write back. I stare at my screen and think Hey there, I am thirty, forty, fifty years older and you remember me? Wow.
This is a covid-driven crash course in memory and communication. I have no reference to their spouses, children, parents, grey hair. Look, I say aloud to my laptop in surprise, what a brilliant human this guy has become! Hey, an inbox message reads the next day, I read all your blogs! One nemesis from grade school and I shared recipes across continents. One once-unapproachable shared his writing and we bantered editing and politics. One kindly reminded me what I laughed like in ninth grade. Oh help, I wore WHAT?
And then, the ultimate late-night exercise: can you summarize your life in a text? The Haiku of my life took some thought:
Mom, bicoastal, writer, knitter, consumes too much espresso, cancer happened, no longer blonde, wants puppy.
And even better, I don’t have to worry about what I look like when we meet up again; I am most often in my pajamas.
I have so many people to look forward to when we are all vaccinated. Though perhaps my new-old friends and I will not end up connecting-the-dots of our lives and calendars in person. Just maybe, the purpose was only to reach across the vastness of the dark, panicked universe to remind each other we are alive, and human, and good.
(Not in PJ’s)