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
Cancer
Violence

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?
Wrong.

Get A’s. Become a doctor. Right?
Wrong.

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.

Yeah.

Running.
Chased.
Pursued.
Shot.

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.
Sigh.

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.
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.

All.
Day.
Long.

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

And not startle.

Yeah.

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.
Again.

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

Good.

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.

and

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.

________________________________________________

24 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about writing you for the past few weeks and I so wish I had. Just to say- hey, I know this is bad for you. Are you okay? I really can't imagine how bad on so many levels.
    I have no words to respond to what you wrote.
    I just love you. You are in my heart.
    Please be well or at least as well as you can be in this, the horrible, racist, pandemic state of America.
    Stay safe, dear heart sister. Please.

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    1. This comment made me tear up. Oh, how I have missed you, too, Sister Moon. I have thought of you and think of you. You are always in my heart, too. As life happens, I think about people who have shaped me. I add you to this list. Siting on your porch is on my bucket list. I will make that happen. We will talk shit and laugh out loud. I will tell your grandkids that I remember when they were in baby heaven. And we will eat. Whatever you've cooked. Oh! And the mandolin. A mandolin must be involved.

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  2. The urgency and bravery in your voice is astounding. Glad to her from you.
    Rebecca

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    1. Beloved Rebecca! Hello! I am so very glad to hear from you, too. Truly I am. Thank you for stopping in to say hello. I've missed you.

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  3. I'm so sorry. I have to say I hate our country at this time. I am weeping. Thanks for all you do and I love you.

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  4. So glad you are back to say what needs to be said.

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    Replies
    1. I always find solace here. Thank you for coming by to read after such a long hiatus.

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  5. xoxo thank you. I can't imagine...really I can't

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    1. I keep wanting to write about my conversation with my sons about this but it makes me too sad. They are big boys now. Old enough to scare people. Which scares me.

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    2. Old enough to scare people....... (my heart breaks for you). I still have babies. How long before my 7 year old son is "old enough to scare people"? (Tears....)

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    3. When I think of your beautiful boys "Old enough to scare people..." in this scary country, I want to put you all in a bubble, a force field... I can only encircle you in light and love from afar. So good to hear your voice again. We've missed you. Hugs from here x0x0

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  6. You are right, and I'm sorry that you are because I, educated, white, disabled, at-risk and scared everyday, can't do anything except stay inside, away from stupid people who won't social distance properly or mask. This country is a scary place and not just coz of a virus...

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  7. So glad to see you're still there. So very sorry about everything else. Thank you for saying it so clearly.

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  8. I am here, friend. And honestly, this is the same noise that is always buzzing in our ears. I just needed to get it out to keep from feeling so sad. And mad. I am glad someone is listening.

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  9. I hear you. I see you and feel your heart. Your beautiful big boys. Can you see me here, circling them, circling you with love? This week has been a hard one. And it’s not even half done. I have missed you.

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  10. So happy to have discovered your blog. Your writing is powerful, raw, honest, thank you

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  11. Damn. There I said it. I have missed you something terrible. I kept checking your site to make sure I didn't miss anything, but... "noise." What resonated with me, one day at the ripe age of about 11 I told my mother, "I wish I were white!" That was the first and only time my mother ever struck me. She then gave me the "talk," you know the one, you have likely - you and the best hub ever - given same to your children, albeit different, but closely the same. How do I stop the noise all the while making a strong effort to turn up the volume?
    Love you FOR REAL. Thanks for being here, whenever you can. Blessings to yours.

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  12. Thank you as always for putting our feelings and experiences into words. (That's being Black. Just this week. Us is Me.) Powerful. Love you! Keep doing what you're doing. Keep being our voice.

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  13. So HAPPY to hear from you! I feel your anguish. 2020 will certainly be a year I would like to forget...but we won't. Prayers and hugs sent your way Doc.

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  14. So grateful you are "back" from hiatus. I've missed your words. Your perspective. Your voice. I hear you. Thank YOU.

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"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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