No query updates: everything’s the same. I’ll soon have a fancy new query letter that’ll be ready for the world (and agents, mostly) to see. But for now, everything’s the same and nobody wants my story yet.
Anyway, here we are. And by here I mean: on lockdown. Again. Our third wave of Covid has been a tsunami. Our ICU’s are overrun, schools are closed, and I’m single parent-ing it while working from home and trying not to lose my frickin’ shit all the time.
My kids demand energy from my heart and my body constantly. If I need space, I make sure to explain to my children that, unless anyone is bleeding or on fire, they can handle themselves while I take some time for myself. Invariably, within about 3 minutes, I hear a small voice saying, “Mom?” When that happens, I sigh, take a deep breath, and prepare myself to give something I don’t have.
Now my kiddos are at their dad’s and I’ve got nothing but space. I was thinking about it this morning, and I realised that the next closest person to me physically is my across-the-hallway neighbor, maybe 20 metres away.
It’s a weirdly bifurcated life, and Covid makes these two halves even more wackily distinct.
In general, I am an introvert’s introvert with some sensory integration challenges thrown in for good measure. Theoretically, being at home by myself all the time with a five-figure penalty against other people getting physically near me should be great.
But of course, it’s not. We are not meant to have so much distance in between each other. You can argue that, although we aren’t able to be physically near each other, we can still have emotional intimacy. And that’s true, but our lack of physical closeness also lowers the ceiling on our ability to engage emotionally. Most of my friends are parents, which means that they’re also dealing with all sorts of shit from their bosses, kids, and spouses. And that lowers their emotional capacity another couple of notches, which means that they have even less energy for me.
I’m desperately trying to fill up this empty space. Working on my dream, organizing my apartment, planning my week’s meals. I try to exercise, when I have the energy. I go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day, even when I could be sleeping in. Part of me feels like I’m doing what brain-damaged people do, when the thinking part of their brain is damaged and all that’s left is the routines. Even when I know I’m working hard, it just doesn’t feel real, because it’s all happening inside my mind. It’s like that old question: If a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a person does writing inside their apartment by themselves, but nobody knows they’re doing it, does it actually happen? Doesn’t feel like it.
Working my day job at home also doesn’t feel real. Somehow it feels way more real when I’m at work, even if I’m sitting in a room by myself all day. Something about driving to a building in the morning and walking in, then leaving at the end of the day and driving home. There’s some liminal space in between leaving work and arriving at home, and I like that. It’s hard to feel like I’m really doing anything, when the only difference between work-life and home-life at home is that I put a blazer overtop of my pj-pants-and-t-shirt ensemble. I mean, I could be doing more, but why would I? No one’s gonna see it.
On one hand, I know it’s important to be grateful for what I have: a warm apartment, good food, a job, a car, an awesome dream, and two great kids. Plus I just booked a kick-ass camping vacay over the summer!
But on the other hand, in reality I’m just a person sitting alone in my apartment, typing on my computer for a bunch of strangers on the internet (you know I love you!), knowing that people are fighting for their lives in the ICU 15 minutes away, and that the only thing I can do is literally stay home typing on my computer.
There’s so much space: internal space, external space. All we have right now is space between. From where we are and where we wish we were, between alone and near others, from now til the end of Covid.
Soon this space will close and we’ll get back to normal-ish. I’ve got my vaccine booked in a couple of days. My work is going full-throttle now, but it will soon lighten way up. We’re all feeling like chickens with our heads cut off, but soon our heads will be reattached and we’ll be able to stop running around in circles.
It’s gonna come. The space between will close. But for now, it’s okay if nothing feels real and everything feels like nothing. At least that’s what I tell myself.
Featured image was created by the author using elements from canva.com.