Love in the Time of COVID
Shelter in Place.
I love the word shelter, it has a warm, necessary, fundamental connotation to me. I have lived in a gazillion different shelters in my life, moving every few years when I lived with my parents; different countries, different architecture, different cultures. I've loved my homes, all of them. Each one is like a growth spurt, it's a new environment, you have room to move, or you are boxed in by four walls, the outcome is your choice.
My Dad was in the US Air Force. I love the two words, air and force. On their own. Together they connote preparing for war, or participating in an active war. We moved back and forth across oceans, my Dad acting as a protector; of family and his country. I watched my father evolve from a strict military man, crewcut and khakis, to a pretty damn cool dude that let his hair grow, wore rainbow bell bottoms and became virulently anti-war, absolutely an evolved man.
As a result of always moving during my childhood and teens I became very adept at self-entertaining. We would usually move in June. That meant saying good bye to your friends in one country and spending a long summer in another country, usually out in the sticks, and no 'American Style Neighborhoods'. Here is my chapter one, living in Keulos, Hessen, Deutschland.
What do you do? You are going into the fourth grade, you have left your neighborhood of buddies, running and jumping, getting in trouble, and you have been transported to a huge, 19th century Tudor home in a little tiny German village. There are no kids. There is hardly any furniture (it's coming by boat across the Atlantic), there is a humongous living room with no couch, but a super fancy hi-fidelity record player and gigantic speakers. Somehow you have albums, the Beatles, it's 1965, so you have a few. I remember spending hours in this room, singing and dancing to the Beatles. One day I was John Lennon, the next Paul. I played air guitar like a pro, danced and sang my heart out.
This three story home had all kinds of nooks and crannies, a third floor that had a pigeon loft, a little room that my Dad painted in, and a smoking room for game. My bedroom had a huge beam in the center of the room and my father put a swing in the middle of our room, hung from the beam, super long ropes and I could swing as high as I thought humanly possible.
I read books like they were candy, harassed my little sister, adored my oldest brother and sister. Summer of '65. In the fall my brother would leave for boarding school in Frankfurt and my older sister would join us in this beautiful home. My brother, a bona fide hipster turned me onto all kinds of music. Thank you Stephen. Those albums became my best friends. I started my lifelong love affair with Bob Dylan in that living room. Still not sure why he hasn't asked me to marry him?
I had my own personal space in my bedroom to play my 45 rpm record player and began collecting 45's. Those little vinyl circles with all those cool logos were played over and over again. My Dad would come in my room and do the 'Twist' and make me literally cringe, but ultimately smile.
Those years of bopping around the world were absolutely special. I was aware of how amazing the experiences of living in different cultures was, and I am so thankful I had parents that did not limit self-expression.
So now we are 'sheltering in place' because our world in 2020 has been visited by a pandemic, COVID-19 to be exact. We are each living in our homes, we can only leave to get groceries, meds, gas, maybe take out food. We are being dosed daily with ever changing news reports. Are we 'sheltered in place' for the month of April, or if we listen to New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, is it July/August?That is a mighty long time to be in your home, your backyard, your apartment, your granny unit or your trailer. You are thankful you have a home. I am thankful my house has two levels, upstairs, my domain-office/studio and bedroom. My partner's domain is the outside yard areas and the living room. He looks forward to social distancing with neighbors, I love to do pretty much all those things I did when I lived in that big ole house. I am a whiz at self-entertaining.
My days: music, singing, dancing, walking in the early morning when no one is out and about. Cooking with beautiful colors. Doing crafty little thingys. I love texting my boy that lives across the country in the epicenter of the epicenter. I miss him. There are parts of the day that I devote to worrying. My worry list: my two boys/men, their partners, my partner, his mother, his daughter, my sisters and their partners, my nephews, two new little beings that have been born whilst this pandemic flourished and you, dear reader. I make Spotify playlists, I sit in the backyard and plan my summer garden, pull weeds and feel thankful I am alive. I read, listen to podcasts, limit my news intake, never watch Donald Trump's Coronavirus updates, listen to Andrew Cuomo every morning so I know what's up with my son. I write, I remember things tucked away and they bring joy. I have a wonderful text thread with my two sisters. I talk to friends on the phone again. I get to have long text conversations with my oldest boys girl (thank you C).
I am looking for the positive, I am looking for hope, I am desirous of giving and getting care, I want everyone to be okay, I mean everyone on this planet. I know that is not realistic, but it is a good hope.
I would love to hear how others are self-entertaining, how people are faring in the 'shelter in place' world that we now inhabit. I imagine a really huge party-dancing in the street and hugging all those you love and that you will love, that is once we can safely be together in this world with no social distancing. In the meantime, I hope everyone will social distance, stay home and stay well.
Today, listen to and sing Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, 'Dancing in the Street'. Let's get through this together, and after this is over, please, let's build a better world.