May 7th: Dress in Hazmat suit, gloves, mask. Carry wipes and survival portion of peanut butter cookies….
Arrive Fort Lauderdale Airport. Wheelchair Server in mask waits while I wipe down the wheelchair. He explains why the airport looks abandoned… “It went from 180 flights a day to 6.”
Arrive at gate my usual 90 minutes before flight. Most of my fellow passengers sit patiently. I know I look like a cartoon. Not a giggle, not a murmur, just head and eyes turned away from each other. It felt as if by looking they would be exposed to the virus. Not a lot of sound. Oh, so serious… or should I say, terrified.
Airline glitch: We were there in plenty of time to be loaded onto the plane 2 or 3 at a time. They waited until 15 minutes before flight time and loaded everyone the usual way with all standing belly to belly in the aisle. The plane was 2/3rd full. The middle seat was empty but if you were in an aisle seat you were inches apart from someone across the aisle and exposed to the line of passengers as they went down the aisle to their seat.
Albany arrival was smooth and as I was picked up by a masked man in a van who closely resembled a good friend, I diligently threw away my hazmat suit, gloves, wiped the handles on the door and settled myself for the anticipated beautiful ride through the Berkshire mountains to my home.
Quarantined from May 7th – May 21st. Grateful for the help and thoughtfulness of friends and family as I made the adjustment from South to North. I was afforded a glimpse of the winter I thought I had missed – snow, sleet, rain, cold temperatures greeted me throughout my quarantine. It was just fine with me. By the end of my isolation, I had survived the transition and as a reward, the weather changed and a much awaited warm spring had arrived. I have so much to be grateful for… first and foremost, the pulse is pulsing. This is good. Everything else is a plus… food, shelter, family, friends (although at this age there is a growing list of absenteeism from the list). So this sense of disquiet that I find growing inside of me…. where is it coming from??
Let me try to explain it to me and pass it on to you.
It is not news to anyone today. We are being challenged.
There are those of us who are being physically challenged with the arrival of this virus. All speed to healing and return to health. And then there are those of us who are economically challenged. This may be the time to look at what we were doing and rethink and re-tool, remembering as we go… we are not human doings, we are human beings. Please, I am not being glib. I remember so many times in this very long life of mine I thought it was all over only to discover if I just moved a little to the left or to the right (and I am not speaking politically) I would get out of my own way and be able to see a different picture of my life and how I was living it. For me, it opened up the world of possibilities.
However, how do I see those possibilities if I am afraid? I think the biggest challenge all of us face is the emotional challenge… and that is the basis of my disquiet. And what is that emotional challenge? I am glad you asked…
Every time I have heard in a documentary or film or theatre or book, FDR’s assertion, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, my head shakes like a bobble head in the car window. He was right. I know he was right. So if he was so right why am I still afraid? I am doing everything I am supposed to do. It doesn’t seem to help. I can’t tell you how many times I know I have caught the virus. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have any symptoms, I know I have it. On one level, it simply proves I am a member of the human race because I know I am not alone. I have plenty of friends and family that are sure they too either go to sleep with the virus or wake up with the virus.
What does this mean? Well, for me, it means I have to take greater pains to guard against a fear that not only consumes me but paralyzes me. As I get older, I recognize more and more the lack of control I have over life as I live it. There are actually not days, but minutes that I can surrender the illusioned control and live from that one moment to the next. And those are the GOOD days. Because the actual truth is that actually no one has any control over any of this life as we live it.
It has only taken 86 years (a drop in Methuselah’s bucket) but this is how fear operates in my life. It is mostly hidden and it has many disguises. For me, the top three disguises are shame, guilt, and most of all, anger. Every time I feel shame or guilt or anger, and I take the time to do a little self examination about where these feelings are coming from, up pops… you got it…fear! I’m telling you guys. I’m a regular scaredy cat and most of the time I don’t know it. The mask that covers my fear is the best on the market.
And herein is the beginning of my disquiet. As I have come out of quarantine and joined the rest of the world around me, I am confronted not only by my fear, but almost everyone I come into contact with as well. And I don’t care what you mask it with…. impatience, annoyance, or the most reliable, anger… it is fear. My belief is if I can’t get a handle on my fear I am going to spread it. It is far more dangerously contagious than the virus. For me, the negativity and the hopelessness of fear are far more isolating than any quarantine.
I think one of the many ramifications of fear today is this growing pervasive attitude of selfishness. I read about it a lot and I see it when I walk around the lake.
“I don’t have to wear a mask.”
“I don’t have to self-distance.”
“The sign at the beach reads closed until further notice… not for me.”
In this pandemic, where so much is unknown as well as the lack of consensual leadership, the attempt to convince the human condition that we are all in this together is almost impossible.
I have known for a long time that there is little and mostly no control in life. I remember that maybe every other day, for maybe a minute or so. And when I do, I realize even though I want to desperately, I cannot really judge someone’s selfish behavior. I cannot sit them down and explain that their selfishness comes from the basic fear we are all experiencing and “we are all in this together”… they would do what the lady with the dog in the Ramble of Central Park in New York City did and call the police to have me arrested for harassment.
So I must find my way, recognize that the life as I knew it has changed and when the dust settles (testing, vaccines, no curves at all) it is going to be not only different, but better.
Right??? Of course, right!!!!
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
OK Everybody, back to your smiley face…
P.S. Below is a link to a Documentary by Showtime about the live (yes, I said LIVE) television Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris that ran for an hour and a half every Saturday Night from 1950-1954. (Preceded by Sid Caesar’s Admiral Broadway Review from January – June 1949 and followed by Caesar’s Hour from 1954- 1957.)
Yes, I was alive but I was very busy between school and performing and it was unthinkable to spend a Saturday night watching TV with my parents so I never got to watch it. It was de regeur watching for my family. Of course back then I knew about the comedians of the cast but as the years past I knew more about the writers from that show, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, Woody Allen to name just a few.. funny men making funny words for funny people. Well, I found this Documentary on YouTube ( I loooovvvveeeee YouTube) I laughed so hard.
Lucky for me the bathroom was nearby. For some this is will be a new happening, for others a stirred memory and for a few others it might just be “Sid? What was his last name again?”
This is my gift to you, my wonderful friends and family, for being a patient and considerate and conscientious pandemic person. This is far from over but who doesn’t need a reward for Good Behavior. Have a laugh on me…