When it was announced that our shelter-at-home period would be extended through May 3, I clicked on the link to the Sonoma County Emergency website and the latest Order of the Health Officer. “Failure to comply is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.”
I was looking for clarification on what were essential businesses. (Could I find a nursery where I could purchase spring vegetable starts?) Are face coverings now required, as in LA? (I had just seen a video of the U.S. Surgeon General making a “mask” out of two rubber bands and square of T-shirt material emblazoned with the name of a drug used to reverse opioid overdose.)
What about those teens playing basketball in the park and three adults sitting on a bench—with less than a foot between them—watching? (Would I go so far as to snitch on a neighbor for safety?)
Who would be on the list of ten people I would want at my funeral? (Funerals and burial services are allowed as long as not more than 10 are physically present.) I used this detail of the health order to prompt a writing exercise that yielded results both surprising and profound.
Now, there’s another month of isolation to get through. In the midst of anxiety, financial and physical suffering, stress and boredom all around, can I look for something to buoy and inspire me?
I see Gov. Newsom, along with a select group of other governors and local officials, stepping up and acting, perhaps, the way a President should?
I see 25,000 retired medical professionals volunteering for California Health Corps on the very first day it was announced.
I see creativity bursting everywhere, from a woman’s silken face covering that slyly incorporates a minipad, to the uncounted number of online concerts, Broadway plays, operas—all free, well, free if you have a phone, computer and internet access.
I can hear Patrick Stewart giving me a daily reading of Shakespeare sonnets or my friend David reciting the poems of Adrienne Rich, Ted Kooser, John Berryman and others from different spots around his San Francisco home and garden.
For a tiny fee, I can choose all or any of 16 virtual classes from Dance Arts, a studio 35 miles away from my home and difficult to attend very often in person. There are other free or subscription dance classes recommended by classmates I have yet to explore. I admit, it’s not the same as being there for a high-touch artistic pursuit, but the sessions give me plenty to work on until I rumba with my favorite teachers again.
And while spare time has yet to materialize because I have been working as a journalist and grant writer from home, I hope that sometime in the next month of “retreat,” I’ll get a start on my next book.
So, today, aided by morning clouds and rain, I will focus on the silver lining.