The Seconds Between Lightning and Thunder

Alexa, play "After the Rain" by Little Dragon

Lately, where I live, it’s been storming so much, I’ve spent my nights afraid I might finally cough up thunder. I have always taken weather personally. But now that we’ve been asked to stay home and stay away from the very people we rush toward in times of crisis, being able to take a walk outside (or not) has taken on mythic scale. And the weather is now judge, jury and executioner. Fog the color of our anxiety; clouds rude enough to stare at the sun, backs turned to our questions; sunlight distant as the memory of casual touch; and rain, rain, rain, rain.

Friends, I haven’t been doing well. I’m tired all the time. Even when I sleep, I dream about the news. It’s been difficult to write, arduous to read. Even when my apartment is dead silent, it is somehow overrun with noise. My inbox is full of cancellations as far ahead as June. I’m a wreck; I’m a storm; I’m a minor character in a post-apocalyptic movie that I’m too anxious to watch.

I have wanted, desperately, to come here and talk to you about joy, but I’ve been struggling to figure out how to have that conversation with you. If false comfort was merely an irritant before, now it strikes me as a clear and present danger. I will not tell you to deny what I’m guessing you already know: the invisible ties that bind us to one another have been illuminated and we are in trouble.

Here’s a joy: it’s easier to breathe when we aren’t burdened with self-deception. I’m scared; you’re probably scared too; the fear is well-founded. Rather than panic, though, let’s just be real about the stakes. The decisions we are making matter, perhaps even more than we can fully comprehend at the moment. Okay? Okay.

Every morning, it seems, we’ve been tasked with building ourselves from the ground up. (Mixed results in this domain of mine.) But let’s start here: I fell asleep last night counting the seconds between lighting and thunder and woke up this morning to a break in the clouds. I didn’t just throw on clothes; I put together an outfit, honey. I sprayed myself with my favorite cologne and put on expensive lotion. I went for a walk, wandering through side streets in my neighborhood, nodding and smiling, perhaps a bit too eagerly, at anyone who passed me. It meant so much to see neighbors walking their dogs, pushing strollers, jogging. I hope everyone is getting what they need. I hope it will be enough to see us through the next storm.