It’s been over a year since I last wrote you a note. HI!!!
Here’s a question: Who are you now? We just came through a long passage. I needed to move slowly at first, then I wanted to bound out of the gate into every social interaction I could muster, and now I’m seeing (again and again and again for eternity) that nothing really happens in a straight line.
When everything breaks, it takes some time to put it back together. Things probably need to be reconfigured, but how? You try, and it doesn’t feel right. You renegotiate your boundaries and try again. You have a full, social day and at the end of it, you lie in bed and dare to remember what it felt like to lie in bed at the end of the day one year ago.
Some changes are right in front of us - the restaurants that closed, the kids who moved away. There’s plenty of chatting, but a lot less small talk now. I think more stirring personal and collective changes are still making their way up to the surface. I love reading Courtney Martin’s newsletter, The Examined Family, where she recently wrote:
2020 changed us in fundamental ways. No matter who you are or were. This is always true—time marches forward and tweaks and transforms us along the way—but never has it been more true, in my lifetime at least, than this moment. We were someone, some neighborhood, some nation before covid hit and schools closed and bodies piled up and Breonna Taylor was murdered and we all gathered on zoom all the time and the capitol was invaded and monuments were pulled down and vaccines were invented and hoarded…
and we are now, today, someone else, some other neighborhood with different understanding of public space and belonging, some other nation that is straining to rise to its own moment rather than retreating to the shadows of a less consciousness, less thin time.
Courtney writes, and I agree with her, that there’s no going back to the before times. The question isn’t: how do we recapture what was. It’s how do we clearly identify how we’ve changed, pull it up from inside, show the world, and act on it.
I think this is going to be hard. But it’s also going to be fun. Because can we agree that one of the ways we’ve collectively changed is that we care more acutely about some things, like collective freedom, like devoted sisterhood, like being present and joyful in tiny moments, like making sure we love ourselves deeply, just as we are? We see more clearly. We can’t be tricked. Lyz Lenz, whose Men Yell at Me newsletter I also love reading, just wrote:
This is not a summer of pretending things are fine. Of going back to normal. This is the summer of calling this shit out. Of saying it’s not okay. Of standing up for ourselves. Of nuking our lives. Of breaking them down. Of letting go. Of refusing to hold it all together. Of refusing to smile and say, “He helps; he picked up dinner the other night.” When you and I both know he left a stack of dishes in the sink for you to figure out, even though you had two Zoom meetings and inexplicably it was dress-like-a-penguin day for online school. No. We are done with that. And it ends now.
One thing I’ve learned in adulthood is that transitions last much longer than they seem, or than we want them to be. It takes a minute to figure out who you are and how you’re different when you just lived and grieved through a pandemic. You might even be worrying, like I’ve been, that you’re the same. I mean, I still love Bill Hader and don’t see big things coming until they’re running me over, so.
But even though it might not be clear yet, I don’t think it’s possible that we all emerged from 2020 the same people we were before. I’m still working on recognizing the ways I’ve changed. On saying it out loud, making it true, holding myself accountable. What about you? What’s new?
I’ll leave you with my song of the summer. In the words of Jon Batiste, “we’re overdue for a little more prancing.”
Feels good to be back,