Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Perspective in the Time of COVID.

I am squatting in a corner with my hands over my ears.

Noise. It is too much noise.

About us. About me.
Because us is me.

It is inescapable.
So much noise.

Make it stop.

“Your people are dying.”

They are dying from a virus.
No, not that virus.
Oh wait. That virus, too.
I mean. . . yeah.

They are dying from:

Heart disease

And this.

More. Most.
Just fill in the blank.

We win.
But really, we lose.

We lose.

The baggage was left on front lawns in piles.
Centuries worth.
Maybe push it to the back yard?

Not yours, though.

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Get A’s. Become a doctor. Right?

The same baggage spills out front.
Blocks the entrance and exit.

We lose.

The words. They are so awful. So hurtful.

A reference to a whale.
Another so bad I can’t find a metaphor.

Those words weren’t directed at me.
But they were, really.
Because us is me.
So they hit my jaw like a fist. Hard.

And that was just THIS week.



Which reminds me:

The other day our neighbors told us that, before we moved in, they came into our home.
Looked around.
Checked it out.
Furniture, photos, and all.

No human was shot. No character assassinated.
Not that time, at least.

A woman frantically calls 911.

“. . .an African-American man is threatening my life.”
A birdwatching one, no less.

When my dad had a heart attack, I said:
“Say you have chest pressure.”
To create urgency. And not get him overlooked.

I guess people say what they know will work.

A beloved elder in my family got hospitalized.
My dad calls me worried.

Dad: “He’s trying to leave the hospital, Kimberly.”
Me: “Why?”
Dad: “He’s scared he might die there. He doesn't trust them. And doesn’t want to be alone.”

What do you say to that?

I try to call. Straight to VM.

More noise.
Heated exchanges.
It’s all too much.
Especially now.

All of it is so loud. I try to press my hands tighter to my ears to drown it out.

I can’t.

I slowly peel my fingers away.
I stand up.

The noise is still there.
It's always there.

I drag in a breath of air and lean my head against the wall.
Swallowing hard.

Then I wait.
For my ears to acclimate.
Like always.
And they do.

But I don’t unhear.
I do not.

This is what it was like to be black this week.

At least for me.

A cacophony of noises clattering all around me.
In a pitch that I hear in Dolby stereo.


Plus an expectation for me to hold my head up
Do my job

And not startle.


But I thank God for the other sounds.

The clapping hands and snapping fingers.
The throaty laughs.
And that special interdental fricative in our vernacular that I recognize even by phone.

We are connected.
We have handled louder, worse noises.

And kept on singing

Do I want to be someone else?

Not for one day.

But still. Sometimes I do wish that I could--if only for a minute--turn down the noise.
Or turn it up so loud that everyone hears it the same.

Or will at least startle sometimes.
Yeah. That.

My sons are upstairs laughing and yelling at their video game.
My husband has the TV up way too loud watching the news. He calls out to me.

Him: "Babe? Did you see this? In Minneapolis?"
Me: *silence*

He shows me.

More. Most.

I can't unsee.
Or unhear.

We lose.

My loved one was discharged against medical advice--but is home now and okay.
Dad is less worried.


And with all of this noise, life is still happening.

What will our kids do this summer?
Son, why'd you get a B?
Text me as soon as you get there.


Sorry for the delay in replying to your emails.

This is what goes on.

Between revising rejected manuscripts, thinking about my patients, and clearing my inbox.
Between figuring out summer plans, washing dishes, folding laundry, and wondering what will happen with school next year.

For me. For us.

So right now? I’m just sitting at my kitchen table
listening to some Earth, Wind, & Fire

being black
writing down my feelings

and doing my best to just keep on singing.