claude was very, very sick and had to be hospitalized.
so monday was the first time i took a lyft in the pandemic, the first time i rode the metro in the pandemic, the first time i went to tenleytown since i left school for the last time before the pandemic on march 5, 2020.
i did all of this thinking he was going to die and crying in public-- in the lyft, on the patio at the hospital, on the metro.
masks are good for this, turns out. they catch the tears and snot, so it doesn't go dripping all down your chin, but is absorbed in the mask and it's almost like no one knows you're crying. i've never so freely cried in public before. usually, one has to expend so much energy worrying about one's face and the comfort of others. masks spare that.
there was this moment when i got him on the day after my birthday last may, where i was super panicked and thought i should get rid of him because i didn't know if i was ready to love anyone just yet. cats, man.
the vet couldn't read my handwriting so they kept calling him clavde, like he was norweigan.
he returned home drunk as a skunk and in the cone of shame. a toxic combo as it meant that he couldn't get his bearings and, as garebear always says, he didn't know how wide his car was. so he just careened around, trying to transfer his scent but thwarted by his conehead.
that night, he ate ravenously while i sat on the floor looking at him.
at the hospital, under sedation, he seemed to have been dipped in dust. too ill to groom himself, he returned home looking scuzzy, like he'd just emerged from a fire only to endure a bar brawl.
a day later, he's starting to return to his beautiful self and begun to ever so slightly liven up.
i watch the litterbox with an unbecoming vigilance, waiting for him to shit. because apparently that's the thing that will make me feel like we're ok.
my left calf aches. i was aware of this every time i paused at a red light or on a train platform or sat down to pee on monday. how my left calf was constantly shaking and i couldn't control it, because of the adrenaline.
yesterday, i cancelled class. i bang on and on about how everyone should prioritize their mental health, and if this wasn't a moment for that then i don't know what is.
the kids are amazing. they sent notes wishing claude well, saying they included him in their prayers, saying they were so relieved when they heard he was back home.
everything is so hard right now. like, everything. even the joyous things. because they're layered with hard things too.
on monday, before we went to the hospital, after i spent the whole night up with claude throwing up, debo was trying to take my mind off things by talking about the apartment, and we got to talking about how different it would be if there were no pandemic.
you know, we would have been up there partying with you for a whole week, she said and this completely pierced my heart. because i know it's absolutely true.
the losses are so vast and varied. i keep returning to the idea of running to stand still, inertia. which was pretty much my whole career in academia, pre-pandemic, so it doesn't feel all that alien except that the whole rest of the world has joined me here.
when the economic collapse occurred in 2008, us maphers-- with our MAs in humanities-- laughed because it was like suddenly everyone else's prospects had fallen to meet ours. we were young and naive and didn't realize that we too would be knocked down several rungs.
i've talked about and, i think, even written about here how EL and i have repeatedly felt that we're drawing on past trauma to navigate this one.
yesterday, someone asked how my life had changed since the pandemic, and i said it actually didn't feel like it had that much. what i remember about january and february 2020 was teaching more than i'd ever taught before and being profoundly exhausted.
what i feel right now is that i am teaching more than i have ever taught before and i am, still, profoundly exhausted. i'm just maybe also better at the teaching than i've ever been and i'm now a homeowner too.
but it's moments like debo saying that where i realize how things have changed-- maybe not so much in the taking away of things but more so around the additions. my parents haven't met claude. they haven't seen where i'm going to live. i bought an apartment in a room with one other person whom i'd never met before. time is moving, things are happening, but in this anemic way.
it's like i'm submerged in petroleum jelly, i told a friend last fall and i'd say that still holds true, mostly. (excepting moments like monday when calamity strikes and it's like you're suddenly, vividly, alive and without skin.)
it's weird because teaching is like tv now. you watch and then you turn it off. the ending is so abrupt. there's no clatter of chairs as everyone leaves the room. we don't walk out together. i just end the recording and am alone in my home.
i've always hated endings. i've basically given up on doing them here.