You Have Been Gifted
So you’re writing on half of a desk, this makeshift home office where the only sensory trigger and productivity ritual is the instant nausea that accompanies the facing of the desk every morning.
Open laptop, heave. Taste a little bile sometimes.
Sit, ache; stand, ache. Drink coffee, stretch, elbow the wall. Acid reflux. Proceed for 8–12 hours, seven days a week, to stay sane while being unable to switch off the thrash metal soundtrack in your head, with despair on vocals and base and suicidal ideation on drums.
Please let’s give it up for 2020 America, ladies and gentlemen, what a performance!
The parasite in your head dynamites everything and someone has vomited all over the internet again. It’s gross, there are still visible chunks of greed and it reeks of desperation that hasn’t showered or tweezed in weeks. Is that a nostril or a blocked pore?
Stop. Bingeing. On. Despair.
Stare at a screen.
Stare at your home.
Stare out of the window and float away across the rooftops, circle the cherry tree and land on the top branch. Good fruit, pity humans can’t fly. Crow mode is fun.
Or sashay confidently across the fence, your whiskers blowing in the North Sea wind. You trust you will find cheese and salmon snacks on the balcony with the blue railings. You trained the neighbors just like you trained your staff.
Come back into the body you inhabit, still exhausted, and not quite human anymore. What if you had been named Grace or Joy or Faith? Chain yourself to your laptop; initiate intense personal transition, change, begin to self-destruct, upgrade?
Lockdown was… wow? Wow.
Go contemplate the hard lessons you’re already forgetting else being reluctantly alive will become the default again.
Catastrophic thinking, oh dear, what now? You hope your love is like liquid sunshine to others yet you cry non-stop for long stretches of time. Your brain is the punchbag; your brain is the boxing gloves.
You’ve been roughing it, to conserve resources until things shake out. Everyone is struggling, on autopilot, powered by duty and necessity because without discipline, life doesn’t work. That’s not a popular reminder among the ‘woe is me’ crowd but that’s what happens when your predicament goes global, trauma queen.
What are you still waking up at 3AM for, bro?
Work in your PJs, retire underwear, and spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating life through words because it’s your job, which is incredibly fortunate. You still have one, sort of, -ish. People complain there’s no normal anymore but you don’t know what it was so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything, apart from when toilet paper disappears for a week.
Also, language has been social distancing from meaning for a few years. ‘Honest’ is now Alex Jones’s superpower. Trump has appropriated ‘great’ and ‘first’. You, meanwhile, remain empty-handed, making no attempt to stake claim to any word or human emotion. You much prefer body parts but alas those shock susceptible minds. Further, any other word you can think of is already a Scottish insult or a synonym for gas.
Despite all of the above, you’re still inhaling hope by the lungful through the open windows because it’s the only way you know to stay alive. When you need hope, you focus very hard until you can see it. To most people, it looks like a hallucination but to you, it’s tangible, cast iron proof of human goodness.
No matter how open to interpretation it may be.
Everything is so you might as well be kind and generous with hope and good words. ‘Better late than never’ is far more valuable than ‘Too little, too late’. And it’ll be what you make it, how’s that?
Hope always starts with curiosity, like the cat who wanted to see if she could train random humans and succeeded.
This morning, you find a cat toy on the balcony.
You have been gifted.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.