Community//

Thoughts on a walk.

So this is our now, I guess.

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How’s the weather today? What day is today? 
Does either answer currently matter? 

Summer in Seattle is too magnificent to advertise, because awareness of it would lead to an influx of even more Midwesterners like me, and Seattle rents would go up even further, which always sounds impossible until the bill arrives. I wonder how long a little one-person tent would last as a forever home in the wet winters here.

Would it be seen as a nylon status symbol in our soon-to-be Mad Max future, or something that roving gangs of displaced Midwestern transplants would pragmatically unzip and use to transport their ash-blue friends and neigh—

Stop. Stop it. It’s gorgeous outside.  

Mother nature is so scary, but also, so sweet? 
She’s could probably use some therapy, like the rest of us. 

So many sorts of wildflowers have recently asserted themselves. Sunshine that’s not yet warm is casting sharp shadows. There are even bunnies in yards: fluffy, clover-nibbling, Instagram-ready bunnies. It’s wholesomely, reassuringly pretty outside, like your grandparent’s wedding pictures, the ones where you can obviously see what they saw in each other, what they still see in each other. I read that if someone over the age of eighty goes on a ventilator they only have a slim chance of—

Stop. Stop it. It’s gorgeous outside. 

Not a lot of cars on the road, but a lot of trucks are rolling along, delivering warehouse after warehouse of brown boxes. 

I hear the hum of those delivery trucks and lawnmowers and smell the responsibly charming scent of freshly cut grass—but I know that smell is the grass reacting in profound distress. The brutalized leaves are warning all their photosynthesizing friends that a mindless death machine is ready to cut down thousands at a time and might be coming for them next, like some sort of monumentally unstoppable—

Stop. Stop it. It’s gorgeous outside. 

When something grows ugly, the rest of the world doesn’t stop being beautiful. But the ugliness smears its residue into your thoughts.
Every idea is contaminated. 

I’m talking my small child with me on this walk. We’re both saner and kinder when we go wandering together, each thinking our own thoughts, burning off our own fidgety energy. We walk down alleys in the hope of avoiding people and encountering animals: alley cats, bunnies, squirrels, raccoons. We keep running into people who are trying to avoid people, too, though we haven’t seen a raccoon since school ended all those year-weeks ago.

This kid, who is becoming feral without his school full of wise and gentle people who should be paid everything and then some forever and then longer, asks me, “When coronavirus is over, can I have friends again?” And I start to tell him how of course he has friends, how he still does even though they can’t come over, always will have friends, so many ages and kinds of friends, even if they only seem like pixilated faces and dropping audio feeds right now, and—he yanks my sleeve, and whisper-growls at me to be quiet. He doesn’t want to frighten the bunnies. Doesn’t want them to feel that shivery fear that lurks on the edge of every conversation and sometimes even seeps into dreams where it attacks his—

Stop. Stop it. It’s gorgeous outside. 

There was supposed to be a plan.
By now, there was supposed to be a plan.
Wasn’t there?

So we fumbled along. Collected masks until we find one that irritates less than the others. We smear our hands in booze-scented sauces that burn into our paper cuts to let us know they’re working. We think of the before times, but not for too long, because lingering there is not doing anybody any good. We try to make jokes but they’re all so dark and always about the thing that we are so tried of talking about. 

We’re annoyed that we collectively tried months of nothing and nothing worked, and so here we are. And we’re all furious for so many good reasons and nothing is fair and there’s teargas all over the place and how are we supposed to pay for all of this heartache? What will this all cost all of us, eventually?

We watch the bunny tense up, sensing our closeness. It twitches away. It’s lucky it’s not one of those bunnies in a huge, sterile lab getting injections that can hopefully be given to people someday, a creature doomed to living in a dark little box unable to go healthily hopping around with all of its friends until eventually, either the shots work or they don’t—

Stop. Stop it. It’s gorgeous outside. 

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