It was dark when awoke, a little after 5 a.m., my partner and my children all asleep. It’s part of my routine to rise early so I can write a while in peace, before the day begins to hurry me along.
Of course, today I have nowhere to go. The daycare where I work has closed its doors for now, as have the schools my young children attend. So I am home with them trying to find ways to pass the hours that we know will stretch into weeks at least.
Yesterday gave us bright sunshine; today offers only a damp, gray chill.
No one we know is showing any symptoms. To all appearances here, nothing has changed, but we know better. Yesterday, a friend and her young daughter dropped by to deliver Girl Scout cookies. It took an act of deliberate will on my part not to approach for a hug, as we would have done normally. And that was when I began to understand both emotionally and physically how difficult this is going to be.
Later in the day, my daughter’s best friend from a few houses down the block wanted to play, as they do every day when they get the chance, at one house or another, giggling behind the bedroom door, playing with Barbie’s or American Girl dolls, stringing beads on elastic bands to make necklaces and bracelets.
We and her parents compromised, allowing them to play together so long as they stayed outside and maintained some distance. But I know that to keep all of us safe, that’s probably going to have to end. Already when two of my son’s friends came to play with him, we turned them away.
I feel the powerful impulse to cling to a veneer of normality, to keep living our lives as if there’s no threat (“No one’s showing symptoms yet…”), when we know that if we wait to change until someone’s sick, it will be too late, the disease too strong to stop.
So as I sat this morning, surrounded by dark in the circle of lamplight, I knew that I needed to do something different with myself. I think I’ve never needed words more than I’m going to need them in the coming weeks. Words directed at myself. Words exchanged among my partner and children, exchanged with the others we love and care about, friends and family near and far.
We have to keep our bodies at a distance, but we have words to connect us, and we have technologies to send them to one another across these distances we have to construct. They can communicate what, for an unknown interval of time, our bodies can’t. We need to make this a time for kind words that can bind us together. It may be at this moment that only words can salvage our connections, our sanity, and our lives.
We need, out of physical solitude, to speak to one another, and with those words to soothe each other’s souls. I know I need that.
So I’m sending out these words to you, as I hope to do each day we remain home bound. I hope they help you. Take care. Stay safe.
“Words in a Word”
I’m a writer and a former writing teacher, so I thought I’d also offer you another kind of word diversion. I call it Words in a Word. You begin with a starter word containing 8 to 12 letters. Then you use any combination of the letters to make many words as you can. You can only use each letter as many times in each new word as that letter appears in the starter word. Here’s an example:
deli cat tail date
dial cite tale late
deal tea tile lee
detail eat lead eel
clad lad tie dale
ideal lit idle tad
If you’re so inclined, you might even come up with a poem or short bit of writing, using as many of your derivative words as you choose:
cat statue clad in lead
hides on the deli’s lee side
hidden from wind; a tad of
tea scent clings to the lad
sitting idle at the tile
counter, awaiting a date
You can use today’s starter word: perspective. Or come up with your own (remember, 8-12 letters). You can share your list and/or poem here or @mar_de_palabras on Twitter.