By Beverly Gologorsky
The comfort of the couch is an unexpected joy. The early dusk enters the room to brighten the lamplight. Nothing new in the way of decoration has been added, so most everything within sight is at least half my age. Objects long held, whether paintings, photos, worn chairs, even the plants along the windowsill, feel dearer at my age than they once did. What strange mood is this?
Perhaps it’s the result of too many hours alone. Going into my fourth week of self-isolation, I can’t help but wonder when the dearness of home will begin to feel like a cage. Recently widowed, I turned eighty not that long ago, and being alone can be difficult. At my age and with asthma, the new virus has made me an endangered species.
I can’t go outdoors, which makes me grateful to be a writer. What keeps me working every day is life. Why else start a new book, which will take forever to complete? As long as the work itself is there to get on with, my earthly being has purpose. When I leave the computer, I’m done for today, but only for today.
The apartment is quiet, too quiet. In the silence, I think about my younger years when I wasn’t alone. Then sure I knew so much, I only now understand there was still everything to learn.
I pour a glass of wine and sit at the kitchen window. Bodily insults come and go at my age, so the Coronavirus feels less like a threat than a fact. I fix my sight on two people walking their dogs, keeping social distance, although the dogs strain at the leashes to reach each other. It’s begun to rain and an unflattering light casts a gray, smoggy coat over the city rooftops.
I remember the winters in Maine at our old farmhouse near the water with their pristine, invigorating frost. Now, the winters offer only the danger of slipping on ice, how unfair. Youth wasted on the young, then age wasted on the body. Bummer.
Taking the wine to the living room, the only other room beside the bedroom, I flip through the pages of The New Yorker, but my mind is on this weird new level of survival that can’t be ignored. It’s the uncertainty, of course; everyone is experiencing it now, but at my age uncertainty is familiar, and so perhaps not as anxiety-producing as it might be to younger people whose lives are still being planned.
For me the future is all in a day. It’s best to respond to a wish as it arises and not bank it for later use. Interestingly, to recognize that reality is a relief. To no longer worry or think or wonder about what may or may not be coming, there’s the relief. And for now, I watch as life occurs outside my windows.