Writing in the Time of the Pandemic
In that time . . .
By Marjorie Roemer
I noticed things. Specifically, the little leaves coming out on my Christmas cactuses. They emerge, one at a time, first the tiniest speck at the end of an established leaf. Week by week, that speck creeps out until it is a pale, reddish quarter inch. I think, with less time on my hands, I wouldn’t see these at all. Now, I pore over the plants and I see, cheering on these tiny bits of growth.
What else can I see now? Certainly the signs of spring, my emerging bleeding hearts and forget-me-knots. Sad names for such pretty things.
The taste of food, the changes in the weather, the news from outside . . . all have an enhanced importance as other diversions are no longer available. And I rejoice at all Zooming possibilities: our BOLLI meetings, the choruses and orchestras that somehow manage to create affirming, triumphant sounds. With diminished horizons, everything looms larger, and I think we all cling to signs of life and vitality, celebrating the way that people can unite to overcome distance and isolation.
The majesty and unconquerable nature of the human spirit is something to affirm, something to cling to. I am so grateful to all those musicians and dancers who continue to bring us delight, who articulate artistry and commitment in these trying times. Ballet dancers with their adagios around a kitchen counter, others in fields and on roof tops, dancing their joy.
I look forward to meals and the occasional long phone call. I read plague literature, first Camus then Defoe. I watch the news and hear about what new blunder our government has made and watch Blue Bloods on Amazon when it all gets to be too much. I rejoice at my own ability to survive with the help of Instacart and Wegmans’ deliveries. I check out how the virus is faring in the places where my family members live. I didn’t know what county Cary, North Carolina was in, but now I do, and I check to see how relatively safe my grandson might be.
Vigilance, anxiety, concern (and rage) are balanced by some new set of appreciations, some new awareness, or permeability. I check again my tiny new slow-starting leaves, and I see another tiny dot of expectation. Hooray for you, I say. I’m on your side.
Marjorie has been at BOLLI for nine years, taking classes, teaching classes, serving on committees. Writing has, all the while, helped to frame and deepen experience for her. (Be sure to dip into the 2020 BOLLI Journal to read two of her lovely poems.)