My eyes close now while I type I begin to nod off these days fingertips stilled on the keyboard The other night I fell asleep eating dates scattered pits in all directions I find one with bite marks on the floor the next day It used to be sunflower seed shells I’d wake up with in the covers But dates?
I’ve cancelled my writing groups for the month of April. People are wishing me well, supporting me in this choice to take care of myself. And I just keep explaining it’s not like I’m taking a holiday. It’s not like I expect true respite here. I am only reaching for a little less stress. This is an act of desperation. Attending any Zoom meeting right now requires superhuman effort. Leading the meeting pushes the stress into the extraordinary range. I adore my Meetup sessions. There are beings there I love with every bit of me. But I can’t relax into them right now, can’t bring my whole self. My attention is split and scattered, my body anxious, stiff, my heart constrained. I am going on hiatus in the hope I can find a way to lead these sessions again with an undivided heart. I miss you already, my dear ones. May April be good to you.
A woman I know tells me she is underwater. Me, too, I think. Later, driving down the hill, I picture myself in aquamarine water, light dancing like the gemstone. I am fully clothed, upright, swathed in rising bubbles. My head is just below the surface, and right now, I think, I’m not even coming up for air.
I am still resisting what is much of the time, refusing or unable to accept the reality I’ve somehow landed in. Reason doesn’t seem to help—my mind fails to convince me even though I am 100% certain accepting things as they are is the only way to move forward with anything even close to grace. But it is a thing of the body, this resistance, and all the logic in the world does no good.
Months into the pandemic, I began noticing a weird rash on my right wrist. I thought it might be from washing my hands and wrists too often because of the virus. (Yes, it’s true. I developed the habit of adding my wrists to the equation. Wrists rest on all kinds of surfaces.) The rash went away twice but came back. Then I noticed it was vaguely heart-shaped, lopsided, like a good beach rock. It has stayed with me ever since. Now I joke to myself it is my stigmata. Not in the usual sense—marks mirroring the wounds of Jesus that appear by divine grace on others, marks of honor—but evidence of inner wounds made outer. One day I wonder if the crooked heart on my wrist might be a message, like images of Mother Mary appearing to people in their homemade pancakes. Maybe my lopsided heart is reminding me to be compassionate with myself. Maybe it’s telling me I’m loved.
It comes on me in quiet moments, between one moment and the next, looking out the window in between tasks or standing and waiting for my tea kettle to boil, that deep longing for my little trailer home. I remember what it was like there when I could just let things fall away, in my courtyard under our big desert sky, or sitting in my living room listening to the house finch chatter on the open louvers on a hot summer afternoon. Sleep is different there, too, deeper, simpler, and waking seemed quieter, gentle and easy, lingering longer in the space between sleeping and waking, the delicious heaviness of the covers in winter, the cold air on my face, turning over, maybe, to court more dreams, or to lie awake in a kind of quiet joy, letting my mind roam.