“The world is too much with us; late and soon…”
Amen, Mr. Wordsworth!
But if you thought your world was “too much with [you,]” consider this deck of cards:
A Pandemic, hundreds of thousands of Americans refusing to be vaccinated as the Pandemic’s variant is in full bloom, an earthquake in the Western Hemisphere’s most destitute island nation, people washed into oblivion by hurricane-induced floods, various school board officials fending off death threats when they propose to keep children safe and healthy, off the charts murders and shootings in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and elsewhere, the ever-menacing presence of the Big Lie/Liar, Afghanistan citizens trampled to death in their effort to reach Kabul Airport…
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the here and now, that you’ve found yourself a tad confused as to where “here” really is, not to mention if “now” is the present, past or future?
My “here” is where it’s been for the past year and a half.. .at home. My “now” lacks clarity. If I see my neighbor backing into her driveway, I know it’s Thursday morning. She always markets early on Thursdays. If I see her in the passenger seat while her husband is behind the wheel, I know which day and time it is. Every Saturday at half past four they leave home to attend the five o’clock Mass. Bereft of those two visual clues, I’m forced to look at the calendar to figure out “now’s” identity.
I used to associate sports with the seasons. Not any more. Baseball, football, pro soccer, and ice hockey seem to blur their seasonal boundries like over cooked strands of vermicelli. The sports are meshed, mixed together in the same three or four stadiums. Thanks to the ever-growing number of sports channels at my TV’s disposal, I can watch Alpine skiing and luge competitions in August, and the World Series in February.
I’ve learned to hone in on “now” by watching nature’s signals. Nature however, sends jumbled, unreliable signals these days. Tornados used to touch down in Indiana or Kansas. In the last three weeks my area, just outside of Philadelphia, has had six tornados crash down, sucking cars and buildings into their funnels. One more of these unwanted visits and we’ll hire a crew to move furniture into our basement. Nothing elaborate, a bed, a table, some chairs, maybe a sleep sofa, and two camping lanterns.
Back-to-school sales began in June, just as kids were leaving their virtual learning screens to begin the summer break. Many of the city kids wondered if their community swimming pools would once again hold virtual water and staff virtual lifeguards.
As of last week the local supermarkets began selling dozens of pumpkin flavored products, including dish detergent. The CVS I tend to patronize has begun hawking Halloween candy. I’m pretty sure there are boxes of candy canes in the store’s back room. Did fall come and go when I wasn’t looking?
I believe my loss of “here and now” began in 2020 as I searched online for N95 masks and settled for the KN95 models. Or, did it start when my yearly wellness check was conducted online? Certainly the loss was in progress as get-togethers with friends revealed only our faces. I do recall caring about the “here and now” during the run up to the 2020 Presidential election, even if I didn’t feel I could risk my health by working at the Polls.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected! Pandemic or not, we were headed out of Bizarro World and back to Planet Normalcy. Or so I thought…for the first forty-eight hours after Election Day. It’s been downhill since then.
The specious court challenges to the election results, the willingness of so many people to buy into the Big Lie, the proliferation of in-your-face racist animus, and Covid-19’s Delta variant have plunged my mind and spirit into the nether world of existential limbo.
And let’s face it, limbo is best appreciated as a dance one does while balancing a fruity adult beverage in one hand, and using the other one to stay balanced. Limbo is not a place where one should live.
As I free-fall into the valley of adult onset ADHD, I’ve decided to lose myself in old movies whose plots and characters never related to my reality. I’ve stopped holding on to every word spoken by the CNN and MSNBC reporters. (Although I do worry about the women and young girls who won’t be able to leave Afghanistan.) I’ve lowered the volume of my rage against the hypocrisy of the Fox News talking heads who publicly scorn those of us who got our vaccinations and privately received theirs without having to stand in long lines or struggle to get appointments. I avoid reading incomprehensible comments on social media sites, especially those remarks that favor sending mask-less children into petri dish classrooms. I DON’T UNDERSTAND risking children’s health.
I defend the social media’s existence, but there are times when I believe it’s a weapon of mass destruction.
Anyhoo… my sense of “here and now” tells me it’s late August. Gardening season, with all of its work and rewards is still upon us. I know this because my perpetually peaceful spouse is still at war with the weeds that get in her way and the garden pests that try her patience. Our First Aid supplies are still in the laundry room closet, close by just in case cuts, scratches, bee stings, and smashed fingers persist.
Patient First, a nearby doc-in-the-box facility, has affixed Viv’s name to a chair in their waiting room. And rumor has it that a medical school of fine repute might endow a chair in Viv’s name for a visiting instructor in their newest department, “Emergency Medicine for Yard and Garden Mishaps.”
Bring on September! Did we celebrate the fourth of July? What about New Year’s Eve?
Renée Bess is the author of five novels, the co-curator of an award winning anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS, and BETWEEN A ROCK AND A SOFT PLACE, COLLECTED WORKS, her latest book. She blogs when she cannot help herself from doing so. Here’s more info, http://www.reneebess.com