So, this is it. On February 17 of last year, I got up, showered, put on clothes and makeup and drove to work. Worked a whole day, then said to everyone, “I’ll see you in two to six weeks!” and left.
I was having (wait for it) surgery the next day, and depending on what they did when they were in there, my recovery was going to be short or longish. It turned out to be the longish one, and then it turned out to be really King Kamehameha long.
My calendar back at work still reads February 2020. I’ve gone back since then, to an empty office, to do various things. I think everyone else’s last day was March 13. When I go back, there are all these “keep your distance” signs about, which I assure you had I been going into the office woulda freaked me the eff out.
And I know I’ve said this before but it’s weird. The weekend before my surgery, I went shopping with Ned. I can’t remember what we bought. Shoes, I think? And then we went to Old Navy for who knows what. But I remember before we got there, to the Old Navy, he felt sluggish, so we got coffee and drank it in his car in front of Starbucks. And I felt one of those surges of happiness. You ever get those?
“I wish this weren’t all ending,” I thought. And then I thought, what the hell did I just mean by that?
Then at work on that last day, a year ago today, everything was going so well. I was helping pitch this new account and the work was so interesting. “When I return, can I keep writing on this account?” I had asked. Usually I copy edit at work, but sometimes I write, too.
“I don’t see why not,” said my boss, and I felt that happy thing again and then the wistful thing again. Almost like a nostalgia.
What the hell do I feel like this for? I remember wondering.
And at the end of the day, I said goodbye to everyone, but it felt very Titanic. It felt very goodbye-y. I walked to my car almost in tears. Oh my god, you’ll be back in two weeks, I thought. Calm down.
Of course it occurred to me that maybe I was going to die on the table like Kanye’s mom or something, but I also didn’t really fear that, either. I just felt such a strong feeling about everything ending.
And here we are.
So that was weird and I don’t know how to explain it. I’m Sylvia Browne. To throw out one of my current references.
This past year has been the longest and shortest, ever.
My winter clothes have hung unused in my closet. When summer came, I didn’t really switch over the closet much; I just wore t-shirts and shorts from the drawer and my Frida Kahlo cotton robe all the time. Now we’re back to a year later and there those clothes are. I have sweaters in there I haven’t worn for a year. Jeans I don’t dare try to cram into.
In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t had it very bad at all. I kept my job (I ended up “returning” early when the pandemic became official. And by the way, if you wish to irk me, be sure to say “When COVID hit,” because I haven’t heard it phrased that way enough). I got to work from home. I haven’t caught the damn thing yet. I’ve been Icy I. Solation all year, but that has bothered me less than it might others who are wired differently.
But what a weird fucking year, right? And I think I’m OK, but I get livid, like throw my phone livid, at any article that has a headline indicating we might live like this forever.
After September 11, there were certain news shows that tried as hard as they could to scare you to death. You’d be watching some show and they’d burst on during commercials. “Osama Bin Laden is headed to June’s. Story at 11.” Stuff like that would ruin whatever show I was watching. I’d just get scared all over again, and eventually there were some shows I stopped watching because their news briefs made me too upset. And I have NEVER FORGOTTEN which channels did that to me.
Same with these newspaper headlines, WALL STREET JOURNAL. NEW YORK TIMES. I know what you’re doing logically, but that doesn’t help people who are generally anxious, and you are real fucksticks for not caring how your little click-me headline ruins anxious people all day long.
Anyway, here I am. Honestly, the thought of getting up and showering and heading to an office for 9 hours sounds absolutely exhausting now, and I wonder if I’ll come home that first day back just drained from too much. Too much with the driving and the people and the chatting and the overhead lights and the interruptions. I wonder if that will be weird. If I’ll be Tom Hanks at his welcome back party after he was on that island for four years and Helen Hunt had stampeded for Mr. Big.
I wonder if I’ll stand alone with a long lighter.
Ironically, to celebrate my Year of Being Home, yesterday I went to the grocery store. The one I used to go to 11 times a week, by my old house. The one where I watched the 4th of July fireworks in the parking lot with all the bag boys four or five years ago. The one where the salad bar had pudding so guess who used to have salad pudding for dinner.
I’m taking this medication. Remember when I went to the urologist for my penis a few weeks ago, and I only went cause he held my medication refill hostage? CVS texted to say it was ready, with a fine, reasonable price of $400.
“For the year?” I wondered.
So I got on Good Rx, which is like a miracle site, and found the same medication for $17 at that grocery store’s pharmacy. And that’s how Edsel and I ended up driving there like it was normal.
And apparently it is normal, as it was bustling and everyone was shopping and getting pharmaceuticals and looking at the Burt’s Bees display just like it was 2019, which is the last time I was ever in that store.
I’d better go. I’m super busy counting days since I’ve been out in public exposing self to COVID. (Countdown: 1!!)
From her isolation booth,