I am still working on getting my writing voice back, and the pandemic has not made this easier.
Still, I am writing again, making myself sit down long enough to the words out. It’s hard. I am super distracted, restless, unfocused. Even watching TV is a challenge.
And, there have been moments of profound beauty.
From the Dept of Smiling All Night
The Friday night before Shelter in Place began, I walked down to the grocery store to get few last minute things, and I stopped to talk with a neighbor who lives outside.
HIs name is Bob and we have talked a few times before.
He lives in the alcove entryway of a defunct Latin bar, and he uses a wheelchair. He is very clear to talk to, and I have heard him say more than once “I used to have a life. I never thought this could happen to me.”
This night I wanted to let him know that rain was coming, supposedly a lot. He had no idea, as, he said, he doesn’t see the news or hear updates at all. He is like a pioneer with the weather, and just looks up to see what’s coming.
I realized he probably didn’t know about the pandemic either, so I gave him that update as well.
I asked him if he ever sleeps inside, and he he said not since 2017 after he got out of the hospital. He wanted to stay outside.
I was worried about the rain, and I asked if he needed anything, like a tarp or some plastic, and he said, yeah that would be great actually.
I got him some chicken and a root beer, as he requested, at the store, and dropped it off on the way back. I told him I’d go get the tarp.
At home Enzo and I put together some stuff that seemed useful, like a tarp, and a big umbrella, and some handi-wipes and papertowels and a gallon of water all in an Ikea bag so he could keep his stuff dry.
He was really stoked when I came back this time, and eagerly accepted the gifts.
I was squatting down on my haunches, yogi-style, and talking with him and I started to feel really sad.
I thought about the empty rooms in our house, and wondered if I should invite him home.
But I didn’t.
It seemed like a pretty complex thought, and definitely needed some discussion with my family. I let it go.
I apologized to him for not doing more, and he looked at me deep into my eyes.
He said “I see anxiety in you. You’re worrying about me. You’re thinking I’m not going to be alright.”
Impressed by his emotional intelligence, I said, yeah, you’re right, I feel guilty.
His eyes caught mine, and he said to me very directly:
“I want you to know that what you are doing is Enough.
It’s Enough Dave.
Just by showing me care and concern and by talking to me like a regular person, that’s Enough.
I can’t tell you how much that means to me.
So thank you, I was having a hard day, and now because of you, I’ll be smiling all night.”
I burst into tears as his words went deep to the heart of my inner doubts and my fears and my old story that whatever I do, it will never be enough and it won’t make a difference. That none of it really makes a difference.
That old story.
I sat with him a while longer, and then I said good night and headed home.
I could feel the rain coming in, and it did give me a moment of concern, but I remembered what Bob said, and after that I was the one who was smiling.
Blessings to you all,
King Bee, Fire-Tender