One Year in Pandemia Part 3: Grief, Loneliness, Anger, Gratitude
Yellow Canary Land 🐤 readers reflect on the year since the pandemic was declared.
Earlier this month, I invited Yellow Canary Land 🐤 readers to submit their reflections on the year since the pandemic was declared, which was March 11, 2020. As expected, reflections captured a range of emotions, from gratitude to grief, from loneliness to livid anger. In this year of years, some also reported on their personal growth during a time of great suffering. One reader sent in their art, a series of paintings on the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
It’s impossible that such a momentous year wouldn’t change us. How it changed us depended so much on where we happened to be in our lives when the virus started circulating through humanity.
The first part of quarantine life has brought out a deep sense of physical loneliness out of me. It is only then I realized that when we meet friends or strangers IRL, there is a chemical component to our interactions — the breathe we puff onto each other’s body when we speak, dance, or walk pass each other is crucial to feelings of intimacy and togetherness.
This led me to a transformation that took place during the second part of the quarantine. I’ve realized that as someone who spends most of their lives in urban centers, I’ve relied heavily on other people to fulfill a sense of intimacy for me — sometimes it’s beautiful and at times it’s chaotic. And I’ve came to learn that it is possible for me to prioritize and create a deeper sense of care for myself. I do things for myself now that a romantic partner does for me. Most of these things are fleeting pleasures — body work, getting flowers for myself, cooking nourishing food and eating well.
I’ve learned to honor present moments and my body beyond all else.
Ever since Mar 11, 2020, I started planning tomorrow’s dinner yesterday.
Being by myself, with very few social events to run off to, has forced me to confront some of my inner demons and bad mental habits. Of course, the pandemic malaise has not been helpful in my attempts to process and overcome, but there’s always tomorrow, right?
It’s hard to separate the grief of the pandemic from the grief of my own life over the last year, but 2020 has felt like a breaking point in my life, a crushing passageway of mid-life that I have submitted to, a space I have entered from which I will never return. I wonder whether I’ll ever see the world or my own life with the same optimism for the future that I used to have. Rather than feeling like life is building up to something, going somewhere, it feels as if the past is done and locked away, a place we can never return to, and the loss of the future by means of regrets about the past is excruciating. If only we’d done something different when we could have, maybe so many might not have been lost. How do we move forward? We have just time and hope.
Like any other type A person, I started the pandemic quarantine by setting up a “just ok” desk space in the corner of my home, running every other day in my neighborhood to capitalize on working from home, and baking as much homemade bread as possible. As the year continued on, my corner needed an actual desk, I dived into more sophisticated DJ equipment, camped near Mendocino on the weekends, and doubled down on all Netlix. As you can tell, the allure of wfh and being quarantined lost its luster as we didn’t know if we’d ever be out of this nightmare. I gave up running — sick of my route, gave up watching movies as I caught up on content, even gave up reading as I was overstimulated by all the zoom meetings and exhausted by being online all the time. The numbers kept rising, and to do my part of being a good citizen, I remained sheltering in place — only venturing out when I absolutely needed to, masked of course.
It’s 2021 and I’m over it, convinced that the only investment I need now is a one way ticket to Mars, after observing humanity. I’m over disbelief of climate change. I’m over seeing the ignorance and the hate, spawned by Trump and his sinophobic ways. I’m over people being selfish and refusing to mask; I’m over all the Asian Hate; I’m over Corporations giving lip service to work life balance. When the Pandemic is over, I’m taking myself away on a long awaited retreat in Provence, where I get to breathe fresh lavender air, and finally learn to make shoes and cheese — a gift I was supposed to give myself years ago for my sabbatical. It’s 2021 and I’ve learned that life is too short; I’ve learned that my goals dreams come first next time.
Attitude to food and cooking.
After 3 months’ running around (literally running around) to get groceries, vegetables and meat, 2020 became the 1st year for me to do cooking seriously, as I was living alone in Hubei Province.
After 2020, it is a special feeling to cook mindfully, with more gratitude for the fresh good food.