I woke up this morning and forgot we are in the middle of a pandemic. It’s so easy to do – the hunting dogs act the same as a year ago, the Shama birds still sing on the metal rooftop and Eddie is still yelling at Alice. Buddy still rips the head from an occasional rat and leaves the body in the back yard. The wasps are still looking for a crevice in the wood to build a nest.
My grandchildren still run into my home and melt into my arms, dirty from the park and chocolate.
I still love Larry, and walk to his sofa where he’s smiling at me with a small glass of wine. It takes me awhile to come down from my day, and he’s patient, then reels me in like a fish with a hook he will gently remove with touch and tenderness. When I come to him with all of me, we treat the parts of each other we are still learning about gently, an unwrapping, just like years ago.
Just like before the pandemic.
I took Peter’s truck into town for supplies, and on the way in I saw a two year old with a mask and my knees went weak. I thought, she must have a medical condition, and then I walked into the store, where they check for your card, but they were in conversation.
I was invisible.
I was pre-pandemic.
I walked with a dance in my step.
I rolled my cart through the store, everybody staring at me.
And I thought perhaps I was shining, but then I remembered I am 59 and nobody looks at fifty-nine year old women like that. Then, when I was in front of the vacuum cleaners, the cordless ones – I remembered.
I touched my face, my lips, my chin, my cheekbones, looking for fabric and elastic.
I reached into my mouth and touched my tongue, my teeth, the all of me, and just like like that I was back in the pandemic, and it was 2020, and I was really standing in the middle of Costco maskless, slightly crazy – when a man with a Costco name tag turned the corner and I said to him, Oh my God, I forgot my mask!
I’ll be right back, he said, I’ll get you one.
Don’t worry, he said.
Before this moment I was light, I was song, I was throat and love, I was the breeze that blew my thin pink curtain and woke me this morning. And then I wasn’t. Then I was mask-less, basking in my own shame, five pound weights attached to my ankles and pushing a shopping cart.
It was as if I woke from a coma and now I was standing, hand over my mouth, in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of Costco, in a country stripped of all environmental laws, women losing everything they had gained, a place where we have to say Black Lives Matter because they haven’t mattered forever, where we will soon be stripped of health care and social security.
I tugged on the elastic of my life, your life, all our lives.
Then the employee came back with a blue hospital mask, and I reassured him I didn’t do it out of disrespect, and he said it’s so easy to want to forget.
Then I placed toilet paper in the cart – raspberries for the kids, blueberries to freeze them for Mika, shampoo, asparagus for a family of ten….pounds of mushrooms I might not get around to cooking.
I went home and walked Hanalei Bay with Limor. I needed Hanalei’s sixteen shades of green, her rushing waterfalls. Ann ran toward the pier with red lipstick and headphones just like she did ten years ago, and when we got to the river, Limor screamed LOOK. And there it was, the rainbow.
Time can be confusing in the best of times, but in the middle of a pandemic it’s downright a Trickster. Add Hanalei Bay to the equation and you are in a magical mist, a portal, a time machine – an untamed wildness.
And inside that time machine are rainbows, glazed donuts and our ancestors, and all the hope we may have forgotten. There is human kindness and patience and love. There is a landscape of humanity where we are all waiting to be reborn again into something we still have to earn.
And I’m writing this morning tell you there is nothing wrong with Magical Thinking. And if this has happened to you – if you have woken in the morning to yesterday, gotten your coffee, tended your garden, opened your mail, cut fresh flowers, and forgotten you are in the middle of a pandemic, then maybe we need to understand the way out of fear is not going deeper into fear.
Magical thinking is intuitive, it’s how we let our ancestors back in, the moment we smell our mother in the passenger seat next to us even though she died two years ago. Maybe magical thinking is the way forward, where we rekindle our intuition. This way of thinking is light-filled and spontaneous. It’s the way in and the way out.
Language is an act of magic – what we think sometimes becomes. What we write is a line we cast into the world as a spell.
An invitation in a gilded envelope.
I woke up this morning and forgot we are in the middle of a pandemic. Eddie was yelling at Alice again, I made a cup of coffee. The Shama birds came close to my window and sang me their morning song.