I washed my face this morning, which seems worth mentioning because I think it’s only the second time I have done this since quarantine started. Either there is less of a reason to wash my face or I am in the process of giving up. But what does giving up even mean? What am I giving up? Self-maintenance? Who is self-maintenance for if not, uh, the self—me? I don’t feel like I’m giving up. I’m actually taking pretty good care of myself—better care than I did when I was spending closer to ~3 waking hours at home each day as opposed to the recent 16. I’m eating pretty healthy food (for the most part) that I’m making for myself, I’m taking in less alcohol than I have in years. I’m washing my hands voraciously and really getting to know my kids. As a still-healthy person, what other choice do I have as I try to stay out of the way?
I listened to a podcast this weekend that rocked me to my core—it was a conversation between Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed, which is the name of a book that has caused me to question whether the real power of a woman is to live recklessly, if actually the most audacious desires among us are not reckless at all. While I listened to it, I was outstretched on the carpet in my living room, staring up at the elephant wall across the entrance to my apartment, admiring the daffodils and tulips and hyacinths in three disparate vases on the dining room table that we almost sold last month. My attention faded in and out—I wondered where we’d be eating had someone bought the table. Around the coffee table on the floor? At the bench by the windows facing Centre Street? Then I zeroed back into the podcast at the call of such lines as, “Maybe imagination is where we go not to escape reality but to discover it.” You should listen to it—I’m not doing their conversation the spiritual justice it deserves.
I think I’ll make a gigantic salad for lunch with tricolored greens, chickpeas, celery, avocado, pumpkin seeds—anything I can find that will accommodate the size of this bowl. We’ll probably eat it for dinner too. Should I grill some Meyer lemon and put it on top? Never mind. I’m going to eat it raw.
Are you enjoying any elements of the quarantine? I’m afraid to ask this. And you might actually never see it because there’s a good chance I will delete it. It’s a dangerous question because I’m not really asking if you like quarantine, I’m asking if you have discovered anything transformative — the kind of something you may never have seen, and won’t want to forget. I think I’m settled into an adjusted state of reality and am pretty impressed by the natural, human inclination to find patterns, attach meaning to them, and create new routines. My weekdays are falling into this new kind of rhythm. My weekends, too. Yesterday I had a thought that I might even like it more than the rhythms of routines past, then I realized that actually, I’m just wearing blinders to get to the end of every day in spirits pleasant enough to sit down and write something like this. I haven’t forgotten the superior rhythms of the past and I can imagine the rhythms of the future. Is this what being present is like?
But away I go: I can’t wait for the kids to go to bed so Abie and I can have an aperitivo hour. This is another new rhythm I’ve come to look forward to—Saturday night in with Abie. It’s not so different from the routine we had pre-Quarantine only “in” was “out,” but overall, I think I look forward to getting lost in conversation without the interruption of a weeknight obligation.
I haven’t had a drink in a pretty long time and there’s a bottle of champagne on my kitchen counter. It’s not kosher for Passover so I’ll have to dispose of it if it’s not consumed before the holiday starts on Wednesday. Not getting lost on me is the irony of observing a holiday that commemorates liberation. The champagne has been there since Christmas. I should have a glass. I think I’ll do that.
I’ll have it with the olives and crackers and chips and raw chopped veggies around avocado dip I’ve prepared for us. Chopping up vegetables is as soothing as they say it is. So is washing dishes. I totally get it—there is something so reliable about knowing exactly what you are setting out to do and then through the function of your own effort, doing it. It’s so simple. I think that makes it satisfying too.
Should I bother to get dressed? The next photo in my camera roll is this one, of an outfit that was put on and expeditiously taken off, now that I think about it, from the hopeful underbelly of my waning fervor to get dressed. Cotton shorts are so much better—easier—and they feel right. I keep them in a drawer chest next to my underwear and gym clothes. If I didn’t want to, I could probably forgo opening my closet doors entirely, but every time I visit my closet, I recall all the places I have had to go before, and they suggest I’ll go somewhere again. I’ll think about what to wear and it will be the most taxing choice I’ll have to make that day. I’ll luxuriate in the triviality.
I think it’s okay to neglect getting dressed right now. The command to do so is not for everyone but if you care about clothes, I still urge you to visit your closet once in a while, just to say hello. It’s a sharp reminder of life before and a storehouse of anticipation for life after.
Graphics by Lorenza Centi.