It’s been a long two years. I don’t know how y’all are coping, but I’m thoroughly zombified. I’d been a happy urban hermit for several years before the pandemic hit, so I figured I could ride out the storm and be okay as long I wore my mask, washed my hands, and got vaccinated when the opportunity arose.
Wouldn’t you know it, even I have my limits.
I mean, there was a lot of scary shit happening before COVID-19 started to spread, and then all the fear, rage, and uncertainty that had been building up around political issues just exploded. Hell hath no fury like a white, middle-class libertarian who’s been told they have to wear a mask in Whole Foods.
I managed to hold together until about January 6, 2021, and then an absolutely insanely busy (and yet somehow infuriatingly unproductive) work schedule took over my life for months on end, leaving me burned out and demoralized. At the same time, Canada’s newest white nationalist party received a galling amount of support in the federal election that Prime Minister Junior called to appease his own political pride, and the spread of increasingly infectious COVID-19 variants kept most of us pretty isolated. I think I had a grand total of FOUR in-person social interactions with friends and family the entire year.
Christmas 2021 was my second consecutive Christmas alone. I had made plans to eat richly for the day to celebrate this most complicated holiday as best I could, and I decided to give in and watch all the cheesy Christmas movies. There were some that really brought the magic back, but as the day progressed, I was pyschologically gutted twice—first by a holiday rom-com and then a godamned teen movie that managed to dredge up every experience of feeling unloved and unlovable. There was a lot more alcohol after that.
Oh, and did I mention that my elderly cat got really sick last spring, and we discovered that his kidney function had taken a significant downturn? Yeah, that was great. Awesome, really. He’s doing well on the drugs the vet prescribed, but now I’m even more alert to any sign that he’s getting ready to die.
I’ve been shuffling along and just getting by for the last year or so, and most of that time has been spent feeling emotionally drained, demotivated, and listless. I’ve become so numb to the endless misery of the outside world that I’m just watching myself slowly circle the drain and thinking “Well, as long as there’s coffee down there.” I am fifty shades of Eeyore. Don’t bother pinning my tail back on—we’re just going to die, anyway.
And all that (sort of) brings us up to today. I’ve been closely watching the war in Ukraine unfold like a slo-mo train wreck, but I’ve been heartened by the spirit of the Ukrainian people. Whether they’re taking their children and fleeing for safety, telling the Russian navy to go fuck itself, or returning from abroad to fight, there’s a tragic beauty in the way they try to help each other and protect their country. What broke me was Zelensky’s speech to the European Parliament today. I made it through all of a minute before I started crying, and I just kept crying for twenty minutes or so after I finished watching. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on why.
I pulled myself together, did some more work, and then watched the latest Pod Save America episode while I had dinner. One of the hosts had returned after being away for a month, and at the end of the episode, he spoke very openly about losing his daughter, who was stillborn at six months. He and one of his co-hosts were both on the verge of tears, but they still managed to crack jokes about bad bagels. (You’ll have to watch the episode.) I haven’t stopped crying since.
I think what hit me was grief, but also hope and even a sense of connection, albeit a parasocial one. The world is a terrible place, but there is good in it, and it’s worth fighting for. Tonight, I think I will order pizza and feed my inner Samwise Gamgee.