What Will We Do with May?

It’s May Day.

March was chaos. March was crazy. It seemed like I heard a new announcement of some significant change every day. I watched the COVID-19 counts climb and climb. All the Zooming for work and the Zooming with family and friends made me feel like I was literally zooming through every minute of every day. March felt like forever.

The four weeks of April haven’t lasted half as long as those two weeks of March. I cheated on March 31 and got my son with an early April Fools joke. Then suddenly, it was tax day, and it felt weird and irrelevant, because all the deadlines had been pushed out until July. Then, suddenly again, I was hitting end-of-month work due dates & realizing it was time to look at next-month due dates. April was the first full month of working remotely and of sheltering in place, but it felt like it came and went in 15 minutes.

And here we are in May. I am, of course, seeing all this from a place of privilege, but things are starting to feel a little more settled, a little less frenetic. Like I’ve gotten to a “usual,” as much as I wish this was not usual. The thing ism though, that another word for usual is “sameness.” And I can feel the sameness lurking in a corner of my brain, camouflaging itself as less stressful, as a comfortable routine. But I think the sameness is, eventually, going to be the thing that gets to me, that starts to wear on my energy and my optimism and my cheerfulness. Because while actively setting up a daily patterns for yourself can feel good, it’s very different when that pattern shows up to greet you every morning, whether or not you’ve invited it in.

So I’m saying to myself, What am I going to do with May? What am I going to do with June, if it comes into view looking identical to May? What new thing can I add to my days, to my nest up here on our hill, that will at least make one month’s usual look different from another’s?

I can do my work in a new spot in the house. I can do my work outside the house. I can look at recipes and see if there is anything that sounds easy and fun to make, so every meal isn’t peanut butter or quesadillas or scrambled eggs or yogurt. (Nope, not going to make sourdough.) I can tiptoe out of my humor-only reading place and see if my brain is ready to branch into something else . I can get out my drumsticks. I can learn how to knit socks with a “magic loop.” I can invite my husband to join me in a month-long cribbage tournament; we can invite our son to play Apples to Apples or Yahtzee over Zoom. I can pick something new-to-me to play with in a picture book: a biography, a concept book, or even some rhyme. (Hey, I said I could play with it; I didn’t say I had to show it to anybody.)

This is a surreal time, and yet it brings back some of the feeling I had when my son first moved out of the house–what was I supposed to do with that “extra” time? It nudges me to dream a little bit about what retirement might look like–what might I choose to bring to those days? More than anything, I wish I hadn’t been handed this time to practice, not as a result of this pandemic, not while so many people’s lives are being turned upside down with fear and pain. But this time is here, and I can choose to let the sameness take over, or I can decide to push it away with variety, change, newness.

That is, I hope, what I’m going to be doing with May. How about you?

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