Melancholy

Most days, I’m okay.

Most days, I plow through my task list. I feed my son. I play with a cat. I do laundry. I make lunch or dinner. I work out. I distract myself with books and games and movies and music.

But some days are tough. Some days I want to sit on the couch with a drink in one hand, ice cream in the other. I want to torture myself by looking at pictures of travel and friends. Some days I look at my email and my spreadsheets and articles, and nothing works. I look at my task list and torment myself over the fact that I haven’t crossed out a single thing. I recognize that I’m sulking and wallowing and sinking, and I have absolutely no desire to stop myself.

Some days I don’t want to get out of bed.

A few nights ago, I burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” Oneal asked.

“Everything,” I said.

I remembered a webinar I attended, where Michael Tan talked about “a better normal,” and he mentioned an article he’d read on how to hug. And I started crying. More than anything else, I wanted so much to hug my friends. I wanted so much to run towards them and hug them tight and never let go. And the very thought that even that simple, powerful act could be marred by this hateful pandemic just brought me to tears.

I remembered the first time I saw my best friend, Dante, after months and months of community quarantine. My son was desperate for the world beyond the walls of our little house, and frankly, so was I. Nearly every day he asked, can we go to the park? Can we go to the playground? Can we go to the beach? Mournfully, we always answered, no, darling, because there’s still sickness outside. Mournfully we looked at each other, our own longing for other faces and other places unvoiced. In despair, I asked my best friend if we could visit them. I figured, we were careful, they were careful, and we were taking a private car to go there. Surely we’d be safe?

Lucas and I went to their house, and as soon as Dante opened the gate to let us in, I hugged him tightly, and I couldn’t even speak.

For a few hours that afternoon, my son kicked a ball around the yard. He sat with his Ninong Cranky on the floor, playing board games. We sat on the sofa, just talking to Dante and Caroline and Glerren. When it started getting dark, and I said we had to go home, he burst into tears. “I don’t want to go home,” he wept.

Home is safe, but some days, home feels like a prison.

Some days, community quarantine feels like a sentence. Some days, I feel trapped by the four corners of my laptop screen. Some days, the garden and the village and the streets just seem like a maze with no exit.

Some days, I’m not okay, and I can’t get up.

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