Saturday, May 15, 2021

on slow-burn trauma and creativity

The last couple of weeks, I've been slowly realizing how much mental real estate worrying about covid actually took up in my head the past year. It's probably only because it's been lessening as the realization that I am safe (or safer) has kicked in, that world is starting to feel safer. Or I knew it was, but didn't know how much it was impeding me. Suddenly, I can make art with the drive and passion I had before. I can think creatively about future projects and plans for the library. I can write (not only because I've managed to open the vein and trick myself into doing it first thing in the morning like a set of sit-ups, but because I enjoy the process. Designing a collage or a sign or a book cover is not like pulling a tooth. I don't feel as gray and adrift.

Lessened and nearly gone are the thoughts that I could get really sick at best, could possibly die (I have a risk factor in simply being overweight, though usually I have a pretty sound immune system.) Almost worse that I could inadvertently be responsible for killing someone else, or at best, even getting someone miserably sick. I worried about my dad, whose age puts him at risk. About other older relatives. About my sister, who works in a domestic violence shelter and was essential the whole time. Covid did not wreak havoc as close in my life as it could have. Some cousins with moderate cases (based on their own selfishness, loudly touted, and poor choices I'm sure.) My boyfriend had a rather mild case toward the end he prob picked up at working on a film in March (just luckily we had not been able to get together for awhile beforehand due to other factors, and then stayed apart for another couple weeks just in case. ) He was lucky. I was lucky. Other people not so much.

I wasn't able to stay at home--by last summer, I had to be back at work There, I felt reasonably safe, but to get there, had to travel by buses, where even with reduced capacities, people were far closer to me than 6 feet. The end result is that all of my daily worry ate up so much brainspace I did very little of the things that I enjoy, or enjoyed the things I did for the past 12 months. Sure, I went to work, I wrote, I made some things happen and kept the engines running and the books moving. But there was little joy. and what I thought was just an terrible bout of seasonal depression in Feb, has been lessening along with that, and as such, a whole new fucking world where I actually get to enjoy things, am present in the moment, and feel creative again (writing, which I was eventually able to do, doesn't count since most of that was tricking my brain to write mornings before the dread settled in.)

And it's obv. not just me--and it's all still happening--in India, in other countries. People have been torn up by covid far more than this corner of the world. Peoples lives have been impacted by loss, even here, of close to 600, 000 dead. Every once in a while someone I know in the writing community still gets sick or loses someone. Meanwhile I watched selfish people go on as if nothing was happening. And Loyola students hold giant parties in my building. And that was it's own kind of trauma that felt just as crushing. The realization that people are worse than I suspected when it came to taking others into account. Of being selfish and stupid.

I don't know how quickly I'll shed my mask, despite what the CDC says because it still fills unsafe. Not everyone has gotten a chance to be fully vaxxed just yet. Or maybe I'll be fine, but I want other people to feel safe. Or maybe those numbers are still just a little too high and the wounds a little too open still. Regardless, I am looking forward to some cautious opening up of my mind and my life--thriftstores, movies, maybe the museum. Novel -reading on my commute would be nice again, not just warily eyeing men with their masks under their noses and freaking the fuck out. That would be nice.

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