When I was in high school, I had a friend who came from a prominent family. His parents where also quite a bit older than mine. One day we got on the subject of what they remembered of the Depression. His mother said that while she was little, what she remembered was that her life was forever changed because they could never get good help again after that.
After that, I asked my grandmother what she remembered of the Depression and she said that for her, it wasn’t that much different than life before. I told her what my classmate’s mother had said, and she replied “I was the help.”
This memory keeps popping up because I recognize that while we’re all in this together, the Pandemic is not affecting us equally. I’m sure that if you’ve led a relatively soft life, minor inconvenience might be the most traumatic thing you’ve ever experienced. If you’ve always had to hustle, the Coronavirus might seem like just one more painful obstacle. It’s important for the privileged to acknowledge that others are taking a bigger hit.
And privilege isn’t just about having money. Even if I lost it all tomorrow, I still have a good support system of friends and family. I have connections. And I’m already self employed so I know how to hustle.
What we are all sharing right now is the feeling that we’re riding an emotional rollercoaster right now. Whether you’re super rich and in isolation in Aruba or you’re stuck in a crowded prison while the virus storms through the jail, we are all facing an unprecedented uncertainty. I wouldn’t say it’s a helplessness — people protesting their “right” to go to spin classes and get root touchups do not have my sympathy when this disease is decimating care homes — but there’s an anxiousness because nobody knows when this will end and how it’s going to turn out.
I have some work to occupy me. Interesting assignments to boot. But there are days where I just don’t want to do it. And I actually appreciate the fact that time has slowed down a little bit so that I can work on art and completing various half-realized projects. Two days ago I was feeling that, food and financial insecurity aside, I was actually living my dream life of just hanging out with Mr. Andrew and doing silly things.
Those are the good parts of the roller coaster ride. The last couple of days have been more like I don’t feel like eating, I can’t bring myself to clean our dusty apartment, and I’ve got no gumption at all. I have been overwhelmed by a desire to shop. To have something new. To have a bit of control (even though I have little control of my income right now). Even though spending money would only add to my survivor’s guilt.
But after spending a few sleepless nights online window shopping, filling my virtual shopping carts with clothes, I finally checked out a few things.
1. A Bitly Jack T-shirt that I saw an Instagram friend wearing (when it arrives I will treat you all to a lengthy essay on what Billy Jack means to me) by Walking EagleNews (supporting independent artists makes me feel less guilty plus my News Eaglet shirt is like the softest tee I own).
2. A jacket and some tops that were on sale at Uniqlo that I convinced myself that these staples will help stretch my summer wardrobe. I have no regrets but I also didn’t get any adrenaline rush either. So it’s 3pm, I’m still unfed and in bed. I do have a little cat snorfling by my side and I do have a little feeling of solace from getting the feelings out. I am grateful for your indulgence.