So. Here’s the thing…
I went back and forth on whether to publish this.
Because frankly I wasn’t sure how it would rub people. I often rub people wrong, and while most of the time I don’t care, I also have enough awareness of the human condition to realize when it does matter, and this is one of those times.
I worry about coming off as some celebrities did when they were like “Whatever, let people die” or the way some politicians’ wives did when they were like “omg, family fun forts!” (leaving people reeling like, “wow, privilege much?”)
And again, normally idgaf… but there’s a difference between stomping around when shit’s fine… and doing it when most people are feeling vulnerable, uncertain, and at risk.
The thing is, I do feel grateful. And not just for “privilege-y” things like white-washed WASPy family forts, but other things too; things that impact all of us.
Again, at the risk of offending everyone and the moon, here are all of the Very Real Thoughts I’ve had since all of this happened.
COVID-19 is terrible. It is very bad, and people are dying, and I don’t think anyone, even the greatest skeptics among us, are contesting that.
Yet each day, I sincerely think about all the other things I’m so glad it’s not, and call me Pollyanna (you wouldn’t be the first) or, idk, a blind optimist asshole (ditto), but here are some of my thoughts:
- The fact that the fatality rate isn’t even higher, or the R-0 (transmission rate) isn’t even higher. I am not saying either of those rates are good, because they are not — but we have seen even worse in our human history — people who are still alive right now have seen and lived through diseases that were even more contagious and more fatal. I feel fortunate that is not this.
- The fact that it’s not our air. Yes, I realize it’s airborne, but it’s not, like, in the air. When I say this, I mean like death-level pollution or the radioactivity following nuclear accidents. I think this every single morning when I fling open our living room windows at 7 am, and every single evening when we go for our daily allotted social-distanced walk. At least we still get to be outside.
- Ditto for sun, etc. See above.
- The fact that this is in springtime. Look, I’m an optimist — I already said. But on days it’s overcast or rainy or cold, I’m like “oh, good, that makes it so much easier to stay inside.” And on days it’s beautiful and sunny, I’m like “oh good, what a wonderful day to be able to walk.” Spring is the great reminder that nothing is forever. There is, as always, hope and beauty and a specialness in all that.
- The fact that it’s not in our water. Remember how Flint, MI doesn’t have clean drinking water?? Yeah. Imagine that, everywhere. Or if it was even worse, and you couldn’t even shower, let alone drink. One time, as a young adult, my family’s water heater went out on Christmas Eve, and because we either couldn’t bring ourselves to call someone or couldn’t find someone to call, we all endured cold showers Christmas morning. Something like that would pale in comparison to a real water issue.
- The fact that we still have touch. I get that we can’t touch the critically impacted, of course, and that touch can in theory still transfer the virus, but realistically, for where we’re at, this is more a matter of rendering ourselves fomites, and a little bit of soap and water will make do. Once sufficiently cleaned, and as long as we’re healthy, we can touch others in our household, and I’m grateful.
- There is no food shortage. This, clearly a First World privilege, and I understand that. But within that context, and COVID-19, regardless of what the rush on grocery stores risks. There have been very real famines and food shortages in human history before. I am so grateful this is not that.
- I’m so glad that dogs* aren’t the carriers. Random, but… I mean, can you even imagine?? Would we ship them all off to a ranch somewhere? Would they be put down?? What would happen?? It would be terrible. When I shared this with my partner, he was like “yeah actually, that’s maybe the number one reason we know this wasn’t a targeted attack on Americans, because if it was, that’s how they would’ve gone for the jugular.”
- I’m so glad that this isn’t a disease affecting dogs* — where we’re the carriers. Yeah I know, again with the dogs. (And we don’t even have a dog!) These two thoughts happened right in a row on a walk, when everyone was taking their dog out and furtively eyeing each other but playing it cool like they weren’t, and I was avoiding petting all of the dogs and also thinking, “man I’m so glad they aren’t involved.”
*I guess cats too. and other pets. Whatever. lol
Because the above just isn’t quite Pollyanna enough for the best of us! (me.)
- We live in an era with science and healthcare. I mean, assuming we don’t cause it to collapse, which is another thing entirely. We live in a time where we have better solutions than “blood-letting with leeches.” Do I think this is an excuse to act reckless? No I do not. But I am glad this didn’t hit humanity like the literal plague did.
- We live in an era with video chats. Holy cow, guys! I’ve video chatted my family (who live in other states!) more in the last two weeks than I have in ten years.
- We live in an era when some of us can work from home. Not all of us — I know that. I have friends and family members who work in hospitality, restaurants, services like salons, shipping, skydiving, airports, etc… and almost all are out of work, and it sincerely and deeply pains my heart. So I know that I don’t (and can’t) mean “everyone,” but overall, as an economy, some do have that.
- The reception the world will now have to working from home. Some businesses will never go back. This is great, for those who want it.
- The fact that you can still get takeout from restaurants. I mean, the fact that this is considered “strict” by many… talk about spoiled!
- The acoustic instruments from private balconies and open windows. I think we’ve all seen the videos of European apartment building jam parties from balconies. By far one of my favorite parts of this entire experience, 100% serious, is the number of instruments my neighbors have procured from their floorboards and plaster walls. I absolutely love it.
- The adaptability of human beings. It warms my heart. It’s insane how robust we really are, and often don’t know it.
And here’s where I run the risk of coming across as privileged. And I get that. But I hope that I can share a few simple bullets of my small little existence without being too calloused.
- Being quarantined with a partner. Good situation.
- Being quarantined with a partner whom I like. Best situation. Like, he and I get along so well that when I ordered like 17 new “quarantine” (read: stress) candles in the first week of isolation, he didn’t say anything except which one was his favorite.
- Being quarantined without kids. This was one I was really reluctant to say out loud to more than, like, 4 people, but… it doesn’t suck.
- Being quarantined in an apartment I don’t loathe. I kinda like it.
- I finally whipped out my poached egg silicone cups. They work great!
This will end!
There are so many other life-changing events that never end, not just individually but overall, and thankfully this isn’t one of them. Will the world be different? Yes. I hope so — because now schools and businesses can’t claim that “virtual doesn’t work.” We know it does, and the world will adapt to account for that.
But overall, doors will eventually open again. This, like everything else, will not last forever.
And that’s probably the biggest thing, despite how hard it may be to see in the midst of it, that we can all feel grateful.
This article was originally published on PS I Love You. Relationships Now.