With endless weeks without work ahead, I am happy to be in Ann Arbor where my partner and friends are. Max and I play in a band called Polyglot with two friends from college, Sofia and Zoe. We made plans for a rehearsal a few days ago at the U-M music school, where Sofia and Zoe are still students.
Walking in the building feels really weird. I spent more time at this school during undergrad than any place I lived in that period. There were days when I would get there at 8:30 AM with a packed lunch, stay until dinner around 7. come back at 8, and practice until midnight. I had seen the school with very few people in it before. But I had never been there when it felt like I shouldn't be there.
Zoe says some students threw a Corona party last night. The reality has not hit anywhere yet. There is an attitude that, because the disease is (for the most part) not killing young adults, young adults are safe to go part in masses. This is dangerously misguided. From what we know, young adults are still carriers, even when they are not getting sick. The actions of partying young people seem careless and potentially murderous.
After we had been playing for twenty minutes or half an hour I have lost my desire to play. I tell the others I just want to listen for a bit. We play freely improvised music so this works just fine. Zoe says we can just stop if we're done. I say I don't want to be done, I just want to listen.
So I sit, listening.
Eventually I play some more. Playing with others is usually a healing practice for me. But today, it's starting to feel wrong. I leave the school knowing that I will not return again anytime soon.
After the rehearsal I teach my first private lesson over video chat. I teach my very quiet and shy 10-year-old cello student. At first it feels really weird and forced, but as we get going figuring out what we can and can't do, it starts to feel refreshing to do some actual teaching. There are few things I would have taught that I do not because I am not there, and we can't play together like we normally do. When I leave by pressing the hang up button I feel good that I was able to connect with a student.
Our next adventure was at the grocery store. News has been flooding with pictures of empty shelves and grocery carts filled with toilet paper. I am not sure what to expect. I had been to a grocery store earlier that week for my normal weekly shopping, and did buy an extra few cans of beans, but I wanted some good fruits and veggies for the week.
I am pleased to find a fruitful produce section with all the fruits and veggies my heart could desire. I am usually all team only buy environmentally packaged produce, but today I get the bell peppers that come in plastic bags, the cucumber and cauliflower in plastic wrap, only buy fruit that's in containers. I feel guilty, but safer. It's confusing.
The toilet paper aisle is completely empty. All you can see is depressed metal shelves that only serve the purpose of holding up the Kroger signs that say something to the effect of "Due to heightened demand, Kroger is limited the amount of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and toilet paper to 3 per costumer. We apologize for the inconvenience." Max's place doesn't have a bunch of extra toilet paper. We just hope that when we runout, someone will come through to help us out. From all I've seen so far, it seems like I can trust the people I know to help.
I think about what to make for dinner and start to worry. Should I be using any of my rice now? What if the grocery stores close and I cannot get rice? I should probably only eat perishables. I suddenly feel like I did not buy enough food. Can I live off all this for a month? Or longer? I am only used to cooking for myself and having 5-6 days worth of groceries. I wasn't really thinking about buying things long term.
Later in the evening we settle down to watch a movie with the housemates. We choose Synecdoche New York. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a phobia of medical malfunctions in certain contexts and really can't watch doctor or hospital shows/movies. This isn't that, but as part of the absurdist plot, the main character (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has random nonsensical medical issues during the first third of the movie. I end up escaping to the bedroom.
As soon as I collapse on the bed I start sobbing. I just cannot handle the medical things and I hate that I can't and it just freaks me out and I just can't do it. My already on-edge body has given out. My stomach feels like it's filled with acid. I don't think I ate enough food today. But I have enough food. I will be alright. I start breathing deeply. I'll be alright. Then Max walks in the room and sees me hunched and helpless looking and the cycle starts again. He is so sorry. So sorry. As he sits and comforts me I realize the cries I shed have been in there for days. It's the cry from election night, the cry of uncertainty, the cry of fear, the cry of walking out of school for the last time because things are not normal. It's a cathartic cry.
As we settle down for the night I feel somehow more at peace with everything. "So all that medical stuff was not important to the plot? And it all just stops? And then he goes on and does this crazy revolutionary thing?" "Yep." Some of the built up anxiety has gone away. It's going to be alright. Sometimes it really does help to just sob about something.