Today is the one year anniversary of my quarantine. HOT HOLY JELLY DOUGHNUTS!
Here's how I know: last February, James and I were watching Covid-19 spread and realized that travel was going to harder rather than easier and our 6 months visas were going to run out in April. Our dear friends Laurel and Lamont were throwing a shindig for their 10th wedding anniversary that was extra special for us to attend since they'd done me the honor of having me officiate the ceremony.
We nipped back to SF for a quick weekend, rubbed elbows while giggling with a lot of friends at the party as we were all new at not-hugging then, got ourselves another six months on the visa clock, and put ourselves into quarantine after the flight back to Mexico in case we'd been exposed in transit.
To be honest, when the pandemic hit, my initial reaction included a lot of relief. It'd seemed clear to me that we were all riding in a handbasket for most of my life. A lot of people have remarked with surprise how James and I's situation aboard Rejoice is rather ideal for pandemic times. Our readiness isn't surprising for us, because we were preparing for this. I mean, not specifically for a global pandemic, and goodness, not quite this soon, but certainly for massive and catastrophic changes to human civilization, which our scientists have been speaking very clearly about our whole lives. We wanted a home base that was flexible and self-reliant, so here we are.
I often to go into grace and calm when stuff hits the fan, and when the lockdowns began, as I said, I felt some relief: the other shoe had finally dropped. I stepped into my priestess-mystic-spiritual advisor aspect, offering daily support for those who turn to me for that. Daily meditations on the VHF radio locally, and writing most-days-daily letters of support to the email list I use to communicate with the folks who are interested in my work. (Anyone is welcome to drop me a line to join! I'll be announcing my spring retreat events there shortly. I also have a weekly live meditation Gathering from 8-8:55am Pacific via Zoom on Wednesdays; just reach out for the code.) Those early weeks were intense. 14 days of lockdown extended and extended. The surf was high in my internal weather, but I was digging riding that big surf.
On April 28, my supportive letters came to a sudden, grinding halt. I had, by that time, come to see that the pandemic was going to be a long process; vaccine development was being spoken of as a process that could take years. (Goodness, what an amazing job we have done with that. THANK YOU, SCIENTISTS AND HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS!) But when I saw this meme on April 28 and really grokked it, it took me down hard. It was a few weeks before I had integrated this understanding. Integration tends to be very solitary for me, so I went suddenly quiet. I'm sorry about that; I wish I'd been able to say what was happening for me, but the nature of the process meant I could not.
How incredible it is now to have positive turns afoot. Every day I see more friends sharing that they've been vaccinated. Still, it's been a little staggering to see the year anniversary of quarantine approach. For me, that began in early February as I began to think about Valentine's Day.
Last year for Valentine's Day James whisked me up to Puerto Vallarta for a romantic weekend in at a local resort. It was a steal because they had massive construction underway and not many people share our fondness for using a hot tub next to active steelwork. We had this incredible moment that weekend watching a boat sail across the setting sun from the balcony of our room like a postcard. Then we thought that actually, that specific boat looked familiar and texted our friend Jason to confirm that yes, that was Volare right in front of us, his boat on which we'd been spending time drinking margaritas and watching whales cavort. Seeing what our sealife looked like from land was a dizzying joy. It was the last bit of normal. What a treasure; what an ache.
As I felt into this anniversary coming, it felt vast and murky. And now that we've got shots going into people and infection and hospitalization rates dropping and that terrible man out of our White House, my emotional being felt like things were safe enough to bring up some things with me. This is so common: we slog on with incredible grit through the crisis and then when we get to safety, it all hits us and we fall down. When I taught yoga to people with cancer in hospitals, a lot of them came in just after they finished treatment, baffled by why they were feeling so much emotional distress now that things were getting easier. For me, now, I've been quite internal the last few weeks: processing, grieving, making peace within myself. I feel myself rising out of that now, more whole, wiser, humbled afresh.
Today James and I are going to go to town. There's a restaurant outdoors on the plaza where all the tables are entirely outside, solidly six feet apart, the staff are masked, and we feel very safe going once in a while for a meal. We'll wait until the afternoon breeze kicks in for extra protection and go at the lull between lunch and dinner.
We're going to celebrate a sweet synchronicity: today in addition to being the anniversary of quarantine is the 300th day of my Duolingo streak. Duolingo is one of the apps I use for practicing Spanish; Memrise is another. I find that using multiple apps stretches my integration process and accelerates my learning. In related news, mi español es mucho mejor ahora! I'm now at the awkward point where I can do things like walk up to the marina office, say, "Quisiera un carro pequeño por mañana a las diez, porfa," (I would like a small car for tomorrow at ten, please.), and then throw my hands into the air and shout "I DID IT!" while the kind women who work in the office, who are far more bilingually skilled, giggle at and with my joy.
Friend, if you've read this, thank you. What a year it has been. There has been so much hardship and loss. We have so much to grieve as individuals, cultures, nations, and as a species. There has been so much beauty, creativity, love, and growth, too. Hardship has taken us all to our knees, wailing, and it shown us all more about what we value and what we are capable of.
I'm not trying to put a bow on this. I am, in fact, fighting my desire to end on a high note here. This is not a happy ending. We are still in it. The planet and our civilization are in crisis and we have so much work to do. What I'm trying to do, however, is pause at this little vista on the winding path and reach out to hold your hand for a moment, because right now I have the strength to do that, and love and connection are healing.
I love you. Thank you for being here. I am thinking of you as you walk your own path in the inner world and the outer world. I am singing to the sky for so many of you, and I'll add you to my songs if you wish; just ask. I look forward to telling you more about this practice soon.
May there be some sweetness for you in this day, beloved creature.