Did you know that the state of Wisconsin is shaped just like your hand? Whenever I try to explain to people where I grew up, I simply turn my hand to them and point.
(See, my thumb is Door County, right?)
So, you’d find Sharon, the teeny-tiny town in which I grew up at the very bottom of that mitten. As in, if you rode your bike to the end of my street, it intersected with State Line Road. So, I’d go there and I’d hop over the center line, yelling, “I’m in Wisconsin! I’m in Illinois!”
And, yes, I was hopping the center line on a major road and I should not have been. My mom had no idea.
Sharon is a quiet town, one that has changed very much since I was a little girl. I find myself gravitating to memories from there often, though, especially lately. The pandemic has me so nostalgic for — maybe, simpler times? Happier times? I don’t know exactly what, but I find myself drawn back consistently. I’m writing essays about things that seem so unimportant, but I just need to get those words down.
My small town had its own newspaper, the Sharon Reporter. It was run by Mabel Jackson, a local journalist who also edited the newspaper. If I close my eyes and think of any event I ever went to, Mabel was there, with her camera and her tiny spiral notebook.
Each week, she had a column titled, “Bits About This and That.” It was basically the gossip section. She’d talk about her gardens, I remember, her family, if someone was moving or had gotten a new job.
I’m not exactly sure why, at 39 years old, years and years after that paper has been out of production, I still think about that column. However, here is my pandemic version of Bits About This and That:
Yes, my neck hurts all the time. ALL the time. I’m popping ibuprofen, using a neck hammock that I bought on Instagram, trying out new pillows, and trying so hard to put my phone down. It still just hurts.
I am LOVING the new album by the (Dixie)Chicks. It’s on repeat!
Well, today it is cool and breezy and suddenly feels like Autumn. Autumn makes me think of school. Of course. My whole life feels like it has been defined by the start of another school year. This year is so different. I’m so … unsettled. I don’t feel confident about school at all, and not because I don’t think I can figure out the technology, and not because I don’t think I can teach content, but in the way that I am afraid of missed connections. How can I do this with brand new students who I have never met? How do I do this? This weekend I had a surprise visit from two students I had as 4th graders who moved out of state several years ago. What a connection we have, right? Is it even possible over the computer?
I want a puppy.
Mental health wise, I am STRUGGLING. Being a parent in these 4 walls and trying so hard not to show my worry is hard. My kids are having a very hard time. I’ve started taking them to see a therapist because I am seeing changes that concern me. A friend of mine who is a therapist told me she is seeing many, many kids coming to therapy that normally would not be there. I feel so grateful I have this at my fingertips, and so weary that not everyone does. I hope it helps.
I finally got back my ability to focus long enough to read a book. I’m reading one after another after another.
Even though I’m with my family all day long, I feel disconnected. I long for a date night with my husband, but even if I had one, all we would talk about is the pandemic and politics and the opening of schools because it overshadows everything I do. We are not away from each other ever to have anything to tell each other and it makes me feel so sad. I feel like a broken record.
We are, however, binging the West Wing, and I recommend it.
I don’t know what to make for dinner anymore. Ever. Also, I hate cooking.
My social anxiety is growing. You know how the longer you don’t do something, the harder it is to start (think exercise)? I’ve been at home without people for so long that when the doorbell rings, I tense up and want to literally hide.
Several dozens of times a day, I think of things I’m grateful for. This pandemic has me clinging to the things I know are the most important. I feel oddly at peace, a little more solid than normal. Annoyances are let go, I don’t have the energy to give. I go for walks and I breathe in the air and think of how grateful I am for the weather, for the sun, for long walks and my legs that carry me.
I killed almost every plant in my garden. It’s a special skill.
I suppose I could go on forever, but I’ll stop here, yo.