I have thought a few times about writing our kids and Brent’s parents to tell them how great their father and son has turned out to be in a pandemic. I think I haven’t done it mostly because I don’t want the generation above me or below me to think I’m such a wreck that Brent’s loving care and calmness, which is like a soft, warm blanket shaken out and wrapped around me new every single morning, has been so necessary. That if I tell them that he rarely leaves the house in the morning without turning back and saying, “We’re going to be alright!” in a chipper voice, they will learn something about him, but also something about me.
I have a friend who says he has not minded the pandemic. He confessed that to me one day, over the phone as we caught up. He sat in his apartment while we talked, while I walked around our neighbourhood which was loud and booming that morning with construction I just couldn’t get away from. I had to keep apologizing to him for not just sitting on my couch and talking to him, like I should have. Lockdown perfectly suits his monastic self, he told me. Of course, he quickly added that he doesn’t like to see people get sick, and all the awful parts, but I knew what he meant.
The best way I can understand this is when I think about when a great, squalling Canadian blizzard hits. The weather that was once your friend with its clear blue skies turns into a joker, mocking all your plans. Streets grow skins of ice. Dark is darker. The wind howls, like the stories say. Snow flies, but you are grounded. And it’s not all horrible when the power goes out for a few hours. You get to light candles, and cancel things.
This storm, though, has gone on for way too long.
Today I walked up Bank Street to Queen, and across Queen to Lyon, and down Lyon to home. That walk takes one hour and eight seconds of the Best of Beautiful Writer’s Podcast episode I listened to as I walked, except for the bit on Bank when I hit pause because I got pulled into a conversation with a yelling man. I could hear him from a ways off and I knew that someone was having a bad day in a bad year, and then there he was right at my feet.
“Is the lockdown still on?” he yell-asked me, because our eyes had met and locked.
“Yup,” I said.
Swear, swear, super swear, he yelled. Then, “Is the Rideau Centre closed?”
“I’m sure it is,” I answered, “Stay safe.” And then I scurried away as fast as I could, without running, because women learn how to just keep walking. Sometimes we stretch up to look taller and sometimes we tuck in to shrink smaller. Sometimes we raise our voice to be louder, and sometimes we whisper. It depends on the type of bear.
By the time we reached the corner of Arlington and Percy I was pulling Dewey the last of the way home. He is getting old. When we got home I pushed him over the side of the tub, carefully, and gave him a bath. I made sure the water was warm and I took my time, scratching and scrubbing and singing. He’s been curled up in a ball ever since.