I took a walk this morning. Well, afternoon. Remade into morning with coffee and buttered toast. I feel my body remolding into a sitting shape, criss cross applesauce on my bed embroidering, or on the couch reading, or lounged in front of Grey’s Anatomy. Things aren’t tasteless yet, but still my days feel like lumps of dough rising on the counter; alive, yeast turning sugar into soft porous shapes, but waiting to be kneaded into a new form, so much waiting.
In the neighborhood, there are also signs of life made by waiting. Someone’s ceiling fan is drying with a fresh coat of white, propped up on old paint cans in their driveway. Someone else painted sweet gum pods rainbow colors and hung them by ribbons from the slender, bare limbs of another tree. Kids are sitting in the patches of grass along the sidewalks, or even in the gravel alleys picking dandelions, or on front porches eating popsicles. Garden soil is turned over, dark and rich and ready to be hoed into rows and impregnated with seeds. Someone else has built a walkway with old cinder blocks painted bright yellow. Fresh tree stumps sit in front yards, a project put off until now, making the street smell like sawdust. Everyone has time for their projects. Everyone is looking for another excuse to be outside, to move, to feel productive. Like me, on my walk, maintaining my body.
What will I do today?
Or in the words my roommates and I have been using, What will I do with myself?
It feels like that, like the self is something to be managed like a child, someone to be entertained, educated, fed, bathed.
What will I do with myself? Like I’m standing in front of our overfull fridge trying to find a place to put my leftovers.
Up the street from my house is Otto’s, they grill sausages in the open air and sell them on rolls in paper boats. People sit on the sidewalk to eat, their face masks hanging around their necks.
I ordered embroidery hoops and thread, I pick them up wrapped in paper on the stoop outside the craft store. The woman behind the glass door gives me a thumbs up. She is wearing a mask too, cloth, with little blue fish.
On my way home I walk by playgrounds marked off with blue caution tape.
The word is still surreal.
Image: Mary Crandall