By Alexandra Kostoulas
I have been feeling highly anxious the past few days and it ramps up at night.* So, here I am in the middle of the night, just free writing in here without a plan. These are probably thoughts I should save for my private journal. They don’t make me look very “writerly.” They are racing thoughts. Out of control thoughts.
I feel anxious mostly because of uncertainty.
I don’t know what the future will bring. None of us do.
I have spent years and years of my life trying to make it as an artist, whatever that means, and now with the global pandemic surrounding us all, I wonder if it was crazy to try do this. I want to go deep in this post, but I feel stunted. These words feel predictable.
It’s late at night when I call the dead time. I feel like I should be asleep so I don’t let myself really work on anything.
I want to talk about what it’s like having two kids right now in the pandemic but I won’t let myself become a mommy blogger. I never wanted to be a “mom-blogger” or to become pigeonholed. I was a fiction writer before this pandemic started. I am a fiction writer now, dammit. Whether or not I have kids is immaterial to the situation, I say to myself in a matter of fact way as I haughtily turn the page. Except I lie. I am not turning any page. I am laying on my couch at one o’clock in the morning in my pajamas writing this post with my laptop on my lap and I’m just typing frantically into the void. Somehow the act of writing makes me feel better. My computer chimes, alerting me that it’s 1:00.
I am behind on everything.
I keep thinking I am going to get up early and write but late night is my hour of power.
Today I took my two-year-old to run in a field with me. We brought a soccer ball. There were a lot of other people there. We tried to socially distance as we ran around, but there was nowhere that was just to ourselves. It felt like everyone was watching everyone else somehow.
The deep parts of Golden Gate park are generally secluded in the middle of the day but now, with the good weather everybody is working from home. Every inch of meadow and green space is filled with groups of people picnicking and sunbathing but sitting at a distance from each other.
A few joggers passed us as I was getting the stroller out of the car. They were running, panting, maskless, triumphant, wicking sweat off of their bodies in a billion microscopic glistening droplets in a tailwind behind them. They soar past me as I push the stroller from my car and cross the street to get to the meadow.
I wish I would have thought to take a picture today when we went to the park. I told my son it was special time for him and mommy. Just like the good old days. I brought a mini soccer ball. We played for a little bit…but then it felt strange. Then we just sat on the grass next to the stroller and sang songs for a while, but we felt self-conscious and he asked if we could go home and see Dadda. I said ok.
We ended up driving out the mouth of the park and up the great Highway to Balboa Street, and down the hill, looking at the Ocean and the Great Highway from above. As we cruised my son said, “More down the hill, mamma,” And he leaned forward in his carseat and laughed and I did too. We kept laughing.
I kept finding more steep hills to climb with my old sedan. And him, in the back in his car seat squealed with glee as we went up and down the steep hills. We caught a glimpse of the glittering Pacific Ocean to our west out the right side windows as we went. I circled back and we did this a few more times.
Two-year-olds find a way to game-i-fy everything. Despite the weirdness outside, he found a way to make it fun.
I know some people don’t mind going out. But for me, it doesn’t feel comfortable when half the people are wearing masks. There’s something ominous about it. I also find that I’m constantly wondering how we will avoid people that cross our paths. It has made me an awkward, evasive person. Also, I feel protective of my children who are so little–my toddler who touches everything; and my infant who puts everything in her mouth.
I wonder if that’s how everybody feels and if that’s the legacy that this virus will leave us with. Will we all be weird with each other when we go back to being in person?
Going out doesn’t feel as free anymore. But at the same time, I just had to get out of the house. I think my husband’s work schedule is slowly killing me. It’s like all this work from home actually makes you chained to your computer. There. I said it.
Tomorrow I am going to go back to publishing other people’s “dispatches.”
I’m thrilled actually. I want to hear what other people are thinking and feeling in this strange time. In some ways, I feel weird to share how my feelings have been.
I don’t want to be the only one. I don’t want to be the only germaphobe, the only person worrying in the middle of the night, the only chicken little. But at the same time I think now I have company since the whole world is being affected.
And now, the country is supposedly “opening up” again. Is this a good idea? Or is it just lip service to pacify people who are struggling? The masses who have been laid off or furloughed? Who are still waiting for their government checks to come in? Who are waiting in breadlines for their groceries from the food banks? Who can’t afford their rent?
These are questions I will leave for someone else to answer.
Because I don’t really know.
* This was written late late last night. I fell asleep writing on this and then I woke up and edited this morning. I must have felt better after “getting it out” because I closed my laptop and laid my head down, then staggered to bed and slept like a baby after writing it.