• Jo Page

Lady Weary's Castle


You know what I'm talking about. You do. It's the "Today I get my stuff done. I keep it normal even if it is only normal-ish. I call a friend when I am on a break from work. (I miss friends.) There are all those tasks I will tackle. And I do. Because I am an American programmed to work my butt off. It gives me satisfaction. It gives me pleasure.


Working gives me pleasure."


Okay, well, maybe not that. Not pleasure.


And then the sun sets. And no, you have not gotten on the rowing machine because there were the emails that came in and the snafu with the (fill in the work-related blank) and the phone calls that weren't fun because they were work-related, but better than no phone calls at all.


Human voices! (File that sentence under "People Who Live Alone.")


But I can imagine what it is like for people who live with kids--home-schooling without wanting to, home-schooling unbidden and unequipped--with dinner still a thing to overtake and a partner who, unless equally as harried, might actually want some attention. Attention is nice. Like in the olden days.


I can imagine what it is like for newlyweds or partners with job prospects eviscerated, postponed, reduced or redirected. Plans scrapped, yielded to stultifying mystery. But not fun mystery. Not like on Netflix. Just plain old "what to do now?" mystery

I can imagine a whole hell of a lot of grim scenarios that involve the putting on of a happy face, a gilded bravado, a practiced calm, a studied sturdiness: We can do this!


And of course we can. I mean, I think we can. It's not like our menu options are exhaustive.


But then there are the triggers:


An against-medical-advice jaunt out of Walter Reed Hospital;


A face at the window of a hermetically sealed, bullet-proofed car driven and staffed by those heretofore uninfected, but now far more likely to be because of its fatuously selfish Chief Occupant;


A mask shed--perhaps through steroid-fueled euphoria or just witless hubris--with a state of the art medical team just over the threshold in "the people's house" that most people will never even glimpse, the White House whose medical staffing far exceeds any that any of us--even the richest of us--will ever have access to;


The claim vaunted that vaccines are coming "momentarily" while the country either sticks its collective heads in the sand or acknowledges that diagnosed cases, hospitalizations and deaths are many times higher in indigenous, Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino or Asian populations.


You know what I'm talking about. You do.


And this--this is beyond wearying.


I mean, I guess it is if you have a heart. And everybody likes to think they do. Otherwise, the I-heart-New York would never have made the Wells, Rich, Greene agency (I worked in advertising) so, well, rich. Good on them--and us, as New Yorkers. We like the slogan. And the bumper sticker.


But a red cut-out heart on a car bumper is, in the end, no more content-filled than a red MAGA hat on a head.


So those of us wishing and praying for change wring our hands; we beat our sleepless pillows; we knot our legs around tangled sheets that offer no prospect of pleasant somnolence. None at all.


And then we wake with a baleful sense that another day only means we must rise and weather still more--oh, and while also maintaining with aplomb our daunting work load.


Chin up, dudes. You on board?


Yet--yet I feel it incumbent on me to insert a word of hope here; it's kind of my job, right?


And here it is: Reach the hell out. We are nothing without each other. And if we need to cry right now, then slap up a meme of a socially distanced shoulder. Slap up an image of a nice hankie.


It's not much. But golly, I want all the shoulders. I want all the hankies. We need each other. Wouldn't you say?

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