Shelter in Place
Posted on April 3, 2020
What happens to a writer when there is a shelter-in-place edict that shrinks your physical world to proportions of times passé?
Not much, I thought.
I’ll be fine, I thought.
I’m a writer and, by nature, a bit of a recluse. I mostly live in my head. Not that I don’t pay attention to the world around me. I do! A lot. But you won’t find me in the middle of the melee if I can help it. I feel most comfortable observing the world from the peace and quiet of my home. I prefer to take in life as it glides by: who moves where and how and, importantly, why? I look for connections and cross-connections, I analyze, I contemplate, I add perspective, mine and history’s. I try to place small actions in the larger whole. So, yes, I thought I’d be fine.
And then I wasn’t.
It turned out this forced reclusion made me actually crave in-person contact. The solitude, my cherished solitude, quickly warped into loneliness. It left me lost, discombobulated, unable to focus on tasks, on work.
And that took me by surprise. I tumbled down the scale of well-being and didn’t seem to be able to stop myself from sinking into sadness. But, unlike the younger me, I quickly realized I had to reach out for help. I did. I reached out to my love and he, immediately, came to the rescue. He held me tight and quenched my thirst for people. His warmth, his touch, his words calmed me and made me find my north again.
I also realized that we’re probably in this for the long haul and that I needed a plan to keep melancholy at bay. So I made a plan. In the weeks and months to come, I will take daily walks around the neighborhood, with and without my love, and journal the beauty around me. I will bring the outside in. I will write a new middle grade novel. And together with the kickass team of the Bay Area Book Festival, we will work hard to make at least part of the festival happen online.
And I will reach out when I get lonely again. That’s my plan. What is yours?
Tagged: Berkeley, California, Children's Books, COVID-19, Drawing, Journal, Nature journaling, Shelter in place, Sketching, virus, writing
I share in your sad and lonely times during this pandemic, Mina. I wish I had a love to call on when I needed his hand.
Several days ago, the photo I took of a solitary sunset inspired me to write:
In reclining orange light I sink into the night and dream of days holding hands other than my own.
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Oh, Juliann. These are such unsettling times, aren’t they? Your poem is beautiful. Sad but beautiful.
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Thank you, Mina. I’m glad my poem resonated with you. It is a strange diligence that occupies our days, a difficult, quiet battle to fight. I dream of days when we can savor the joys we relished before the pandemic.