Last week our sewer backed up. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. As the plumber put it: “It’s your whole house, Ma’am. Nothin’s leaving your house right now.” Our basement was awash in…well, I will leave that to your no-doubt-vivid imagination.
This week it was our refrigerator. It started clicking a couple days ago and then stopped altogether night before last.
“Well,” Marc said, “This is what we call an ‘October Surprise.’”
Our fridge is only eight years old, so I called the manufacturer to see if they could send someone out.
“We can get a technician there on October 22nd. Does that work for you?” the service rep asked me.
“Wait, WHAT? That’s eight days from now! I can’t go without a refrigerator for eight days,” I yelled, my voice about one octave higher than normal.
I’m sure the customer service rep rolled his eyes a bit, as people have gone without refrigerators for centuries. Nonetheless, he seemed to pick up on my vocal panic, and found an opening tomorrow.
I got bags of ice from Kroger’s and dragged a cooler out to store what I could in that. Fortunately, we just got a new freezer (replacing the one that conked out in June, to my deep horror), so the frozen stuff had a safe place there. For all the rest, I kept Googling the various contents of our fridge to find out what was shelf stable long enough to last a few days. A good amount was, thank goodness, although I felt deep sadness throwing away some really nice cheeses. I cleaned the fridge’s inside to restore it to an almost-new, near-naked glory, as I considered that at one point in my life I was important. Now it seems like I’m just always cleaning crap up.
Life does throw us all curveballs with remarkable regularity. You learn to deal with them with a reasonable sense of humor or you just give up without a whimper. Marc and I have been around for quite a while, so for the most part, we deal.
The thing is, the pandemic and the upcoming elections and all the unrest have created a kind of constant low-level anxiety in me. Our pastor says that we are collectively feeling an ambiguous grief, and perhaps that’s right. Whatever it is, I find it harder to concentrate, harder to motivate myself. I have fine-tuned procrastination, always one of my major strengths, to an art form.
I’m working on shifting my focus to the little moments of “ahhhh” that continue to survive and bubble up from the noxious cauldron in which we are all living. I got my hair done yesterday and Tammy took a few minutes while she was washing my hair to give my head a bit of a massage. The massage was wonderful—and just as wonderful was the power of human touch and caring, one person to another. That was an “ahhhh” moment. As I sit writing this, I can feel Gracie’s warmth as she naps over my feet. Not a human connection, perhaps, but a beautiful one nonetheless, that warms my spirit as much as my feet.
It’s time for all of us to shift our focus, I think. To not ponder the unanswerable question of “How much longer?” Instead, to look at what good, big or little, is happening today that will help us deal. That will help us smile, that will warm us.
The pandemic will come to an end. I don’t know when there will be a vaccine, but at some point the pandemic will come to an end.
I voted, and I took our ballots to the drop box at the Board of Elections. That’s all I can do, other than encourage every single person I know to vote. However you want to do it—please, please vote.
I firmly believe we will learn to remember our interconnectedness with one another. We will learn to listen to one another again, to create solutions together, to heal. I don’t know when that will happen either, but in the meantime, I will continue to practice kindness, with an open heart, every day. It’s my way of offering a little “ahhhh” to the someone-else’s that I meet in my day-to day.
There’s a Sara Bareilles/John Legend song, “A Safe Place to Land,” that speaks to where I am right now, and to who I want to be in this crazy time.
“Be the hand of a hopeful stranger/Little scared, but you’re strong enough/Be the light in the dark of this danger/’Til the sun comes up.”
Together, eventually, we will all reach out and find that safe place to land. In the meantime, let’s shift our focus and look for the sustaining “ahhhhs” that get us through today.