Covid Currents

This article is an anonymous guest post by a brilliant writer and dear friend. Its views and opinions may or may not represent my own. They certainly represent my friend.

Remember when you weren’t a total asshole for getting all of your friends sick? You’d show up to the party with a little sniffle and say “yeah I was throwing up yesterday, it sucked, but I’m a trooper so here I am at Feb Club.” A few days later a few of the people would get sick and think “ugh, I must have gotten it from them.” It sucked for maybe 24 hours but wasn’t that big of a deal.

I remember that time, when my willpower was the only thing standing between me and my friends. I worked the long hours to make the money. I’d take the craziest flights with the craziest layovers. I would stay up all hours of the night finishing homework I should’ve done yesterday. This community. This connection. This is what matters.

I’ve looked forward to my college reunion since the day that I graduated. I remember standing in a circle with my friends in the Trumbull courtyard, pieces of smashed tobaccoless pipes scattered across the stone, and thinking “at least I’ll get to relive this moment in five years. I know it won’t be the same. I know everyone in this circle won’t be here again. But I will be here.”

Until I couldn’t. At year five, the entire event was canceled. It wasn’t safe to invite a global population to gather. At year six, the invitation was open and I was forced to decline. At any other point in history, I would’ve shrugged off my cold symptoms and carried on. In 2022, one faint pink line trapped me behind the glass watching snapshots of my friends reunite without me. 

Over two years later the pandemic still is thrashing through our lives wreaking havoc in more ways than one. We all find ourselves forced to draw a line in the sand and wage an internal battle with ourselves of when we can cross it. Each wave of new information eradicates our former boundaries and forces us to draw a new line. Even if we plant our feet firmly in the ground and refuse to move, it’s inevitable that the current pulls us as we tumble through the wave.

When we come up for air, we find we’ve drifted further apart than we ever have before. And many of us will decide it’s not worth the risk to find our way back to center. 

Weeks ago, my friends said, “we will do anything to make it happen.” Outdoors. Masks. 6ft. Not ideal but doable. A thin line where we could meet without crossing boundaries. When the day came I found myself alone in Central Park, surrounded by strangers, because no one came. Despite all of the texts filled with brief apologies I couldn’t help scanning the crowds at each turn. I knew my friends were somewhere among them, just out of reach. 

I read their promises: “we will see each other again soon.” And for the first time, I don’t believe them. We’ve changed. We have new priorities. “When my semester ends.” “When work slows down.” “Once I move into my new apartment.” … And as much as I want to recall those feelings of connection and belonging over the smashed tobaccoless pipes, the rejection I feel now is overwhelming. 

As my friends took their last maskless selfies before heading into New York City, some took the virus with them. They had spent three days dancing, drinking, kissing peers who had flown in from all around the world in blissful ignorance. 

At the end of the day, the passengers on the train, the patrons in the restaurant, and the millions of strangers in New York were worth the risk. I wasn’t. 

Maybe this is the same path taken time and time again. Friends grow up, and move on. But something today feels different. This virus has accelerated the timeline. It stole two years of our youth. It stole the days when our priority was still finding each other. It dumped us on the other side, scarred and unprepared for the conversations that lie ahead in our relationships. 

It’s no one’s fault. I’m still angry. 

Maybe we should more clearly mark our boundaries. Maybe I need to stop forcing people to draw their line in the sand.

Maybe life is just that hard and all we can do is try to keep our own heads above the water.  

For now, I continue to sit in my disbelief. Staring at a puzzle that I have no interest in completing. And just wait for all this to be over. 

Travel Log 191017 (Redacted Version)

Start: Guest Room in [redacted]’s house, Austin, TX

End: [Redacted]’s house, South Austin, TX

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Sous vided a steak for [redacted] and myself; seared it at the end. Was TO DIE FOR. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Is the opposite of ‘pee-shy’ ‘pee-proud’? ‘Cause I’m pee-proud.” -Me 

Real Realizations: 

  • It’s not how fast you move; it’s hitting all the right steps. Some steps take time. Others can zoom. 
  • I don’t want to [redacted]. That would be complex. Complex is bad. 

Exciting Events: 

  • [Redacted] with [redacted]. Very comfortable very fast. [Redacted]. 
    • [Redacted] made a funny face. I teased her [redacted]. 
  • Completed much work, including over an hour for [redacted]. 
  • Got lost on a walk with Smidge. If you plan to turn right at each chance you get, you can retrace by making each left. This only works if you don’t find a cool path that you decide to take, because, “Look! A cool path!” 
    • Called [redacted] via Apple Watch, for directions when lost. Grateful he helped. He’s a good friend.
  • Chatted with [redacted] about his life & his work. Suggested he get a sleep doc, do a sleep study, reshape his life. 
  • Texted [redacted] that I loved our chat last week. That was delightful. She called back, too. 
  • Texted [redacted] that I wasn’t happy [redacted]. Just not the relationship I want to have. She said, “all good” and “no skin off my back” (paraphrased). “Still,” I said, “Wanted you to know.” 
  • Wrote a very good section for my [redacted] story. Very, very good. About [redacted]. 
  • Cleared out my notebook from Myschevia. Notes moved, friends made!

Alluring Activities: 

  • [Redacted] tomorrow with [redacted]?!?!?!

The Fiercest Chihuahua You’ve Ever Met

In this corner, at five-pound-four and thirty inches long, she’s the fiercest chihuahua you’ve ever met. She defends her food with the courage of a Rottweiler. She’s a fierce mama bear with six gnawed nipples to prove it. She marks giants’ territory as her own and likes her scritches… ruff.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen…

 

 

 

 

The one and only…

 

 

 

 

 

Smidge

IMG_7309

 

Want more Smidge? Comment with a request. 

Stood Up, Standing Down

I daydreamed about her all day. She stood me up.

We agreed she would call shortly after 10pm. At 11:15, I call her. She says she’ll call me back by 1am. 2:52 and still no call.

I feel like a seventeen-year-old British woman out of Jane Austen, leaning on the windowsill, complaining to her cat:

And I told him, too. I told him I’d be gazing wistfully, like all the proper ladies do in the books. He must have known he had my heart to break.

He broke a promise. He tallies his emotional work of writing a letter at more than my hurt feelings. What price would that fetch for half of me?

The breakage will heal, but in a hard and crusty scar that prevents the next lover going so deep.

We must inform him it hurts my future husband and me, and insist he be more careful with hearts in the future.

This post was inspired by the song Mis, sent by my friend Omri. What song would you want me to write on? Link it in the comments. 

I asked her out, hoping she’d say no.

I asked her out, hoping she’d say no. Well, not hoping beforehand, but I was happier after her rejection than I would have been otherwise.

We were in the grocery store. She inspected a can of Campbell’s soup. She replaced the can it back and grabbed another. I asked, “Good read?”

“Not really,” she said.

I asked what she was looking for.

“Sugar,” she said. “It’s in everything.”

“Why?”

“I gave it up for Lent.”

“Do you always give something up for lent?”

“Yeah, it’s like a second shot at a New Year’s Resolution.”

I asked if she’d enjoy grabbing coffee. She said she has a boyfriend, “but it’s still nice to talk in the grocery store.”

Walking away, I celebrated. I hadn’t asked her out because I wanted to go on a date with her. I had asked her out because I decided to start dating again. Asking someone out is uncomfortable, so you’ve gotta hurdle it at your first opportunity.

Thanks, Dad, for an incredible day.

Thanks, Dad, for an incredible day. More connected with you than I’ve felt in memory. Your stories that weaved from place to place—about which I sometimes ask, “what was the point?”—today, the sharing was the point. Maybe that’s always true.

 

Am I focusing on the present because I’m having intensive surgery on Monday?

Could be…

Possibly…

Probably.

 

Right now, I’m afraid. Not of death, but life:

  • What if improving my breathing isn’t miraculous?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I die?

Death I can deal with. It’s failure that’s unacceptable.

 

I’m donating my tomorrow to high school kids. Teaching, mentoring, engrossed in giving.

 

When I could die at any moment, why do I hop stepping stones?

  • “But Kid, the best stepping-stones are rock and their own right.”

 

I didn’t think about any of that today. Just talked with you, Dad. And I loved it.

It’s Good to be Disliked, A Manifesto.

I probably don’t like you. You’re welcome.* (*: Not sarcastic.)

My fourth-grade classroom restricted its students to bringing identical Valentine’s Day cards for everyone or no cards at all. I found this a problem, as most of my classmates were bland blobs, while a vocal minority were… [people I didn’t like].

Only this year—at age 25—did I finally realize I can choose my friends. Four of my friendships ended this year, and I’m glad they did.

An ex ended our friendship—my first official ending—in July, followed by an old poker buddy in August. I ended one in October—my first initiation—and a different ex ended our friendship on Monday. Every one of these has been a wonderful change, with benefits extending far beyond free time.

It’s common knowledge—and I find it experientially true—that you “can’t please all the people all the time.” Apply that to relationships: Some people won’t like you. Turn that around: You won’t like some people. 

Ending a friendship is therefore an act of integrity. It forwards your values. It makes manifest your soul.

You prioritize your family. You care about your friends. Most people choose a partner to prefer over all others. Having preferences is Good. It’s the foundation of consciousness. 

All my friends have former, now-dead friendships. Most drift apart instead of going out with a bang, but both seem to happen surprisingly often. People grow and change. Friendships die. We can still love what was.

You can hate some people and everything they stand for. You can love with abandon those you prefer. You can express your soul. If someone doesn’t like you, good for them.

What if my dating profile were just a list of my values?

What if my dating profile were just a list of my values? After all, that’s what I’m searching for.

My values, 9 Feb 2019

(In the order they came to me)

  1. Clarity
  2. Positive impact
  3. Humor
  4. The human species
  5. Art
  6. Animals
  7. Honesty of impact, not necessarily of speech
  8. Freedom
  9. Writing
  10. Exploration
  11. Freedom
  12. Games
  13. Family
  14. Word choice
  15. Sex
  16. Touch
  17. Personal optimization
  18. [Censored for privacy]
  19. Privacy
  20. Sleep
  21. Personal improvement
  22. The youth group I advise
  23. [Censored for privacy]
  24. My long-form creative projects (especially my novel. Soon to be my TV show as well)
Previous values that no longer carry such great strength:
  1. Habits
  2. Winning
  3. Poker
  4. Board games (comes back out when I’m with old friends/family)
  5. [Censored for privacy]

We used to make plans.

As a kid, I’d schedule a play date weeks in advance. These days, even when after confirming a reptile festival the day before, I still assume a 50-50 chance my friend bails. When he does, 8am day-of, I’m annoyed. I’m confused. How much is him and how much is changing culture?

I’m not here to tell you, “Something is lost.” It is, but that’s not the point. Instead, it’s simply that some things have changed:

  • We’ve lost certainty and confidence.
  • We’ve gained flexibility and opportunism.
  • We’ve lost reliability and comfort.
  • We’ve gained the more frequent upgrades.
  • We’ve lost security in friendships.
  • We’ve gained the freedom to follow our whims.

If people still lock down plans, I don’t know them. My friends might be outliers, or perhaps the Bay Area’s incessant climbing keeps everyone on the lookout for upgrades. Or maybe this experience is a worldwide phenomenon. Faster communication means more rapidly changing circumstances.

No matter the reason, I must adjust. It’s a tough lesson to learn. Negative punishment can easily become mis-associated. In this case, to self-blame:

  • “What did I do that made him cancel?”

or, worse,

  • “What’s wrong with me that made him cancel?”

I try not to see it in those ways. I try to see it as the new world order. I think that’s accurate, but I’m not sure. Are you?