Freelance by Jen

Consider me the No More Tangles of your writing needs.

It’s Day Five, and boy, guys, is it a big one. Let’s get started, because there’s a lot happening.*

*There absolutely isn’t.

First things first. I immediately put on my summer robe this morning upon rolling out of bed. I know I’ve been teasing the notion, but the more I told myself I was teasing, the more I had to admit that now, more than ever, is a time to be real. Not only because I wore my winter robe for four days in a row, not only because it was really warm in the house, but also because…no, I guess that’s it.

Next: I got right back into bed and watched a movie. Today’s selection was Greener Grass, courtesy of Hulu, and I highly, highly recommend it if you’re looking for ridiculous humor that involves zero thought on your part.

Next: I drank a whole cup of coffee. I’m usually pretty good about pouring a cup and walking away, but new robe, new me. Right? What do I have to lose at this point!? MY SANITY?

And now I’m writing to you, my friends who find themselves in assorted stages of solitude or otherwise adapting to a new normal. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. If I had to put those thoughts into words, those words would probably be organized into something like this:

IS EVERYONE ELSE STRUGGLING WITH HAVING PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE.

There’s more, but that’s what it keeps coming back to in the end.

It’s a weird cycle of emotion. It’s not that I don’t love my family. It’s just that I’m usually at work a whole lot, and now I’m not working. I mean I am. But it’s a completely, completely different world.

The thing is, I’m used to being somewhat isolated at work. Here, there is no real getting away from people. I was painfully shy and totally introverted as a kid, and mostly read books and had no real human friends until I was in sports. Social situations have always given me a whole lot of anxiety. I look for the bathrooms, the coat closets, the spare bedrooms at parties. As an adult, I’ve learned how to play the part of an extrovert when I have to, but after a maximum of one hour, I have to get away. I can FEEL my brain noping out. It’s like the flipping of a switch – like the old-fashioned type that has a real loud click, or one that’s in a breaker box. Yeah, the breaker box! That’s exactly it.

Go with that example.

I live with one guy who’s pretty ambiverted, which mostly works for us, and, 50% of the time, two other guys – his twin sons, one of whom is like him and one of whom is like his (very extroverted) mother. My heart goes out the most to the extrovert, though, in this time of seclusion. While I’ve been secretly relieved even amid all the uncertainty, Cruz loves to perform. He loves an audience. He loves to be in the middle of everything, loudly. I’m proud of him for how well he’s adapted this week, honestly. His outbursts have been minimal, and he has a good voice (thankfully, because he frequently launches into spontaneous song or makes sudden, prolonged, very loud noises in times of silence).

But at the same time, I want to run out into the middle of an open and empty space sometimes and hide there. I want to try going a whole day without having to speak. I want to read book after book, watch movie after movie, listen to music surrounded by stillness. I have one son, who graduated and moved out five years ago and who was a very self-sufficient, almost entirely quiet, only child, so I never had to learn to deal with small children together, much less twins.

But, at the same time, they’re good kids. They’re really good kids. They’re thoughtful and kind and caring. They’re funny. They’re adorable. So then, inevitably, the guilt.

And as confusing as these thoughts are, as much as my emotions are roller-coastering during this very different time, as I’m sure are all of yours, I’m so grateful. I’m so happy to have this chance to reset, to sort my thoughts, to do all the things I have meant to do for years. I’m working through the dusty stacks of books that accumulated at my bedside and next to my recliner. I’m catching up on all the movies that my colleagues who are much more studied in movies of all genres have recommended. I’m finally using my Letterboxd account and then, who knows, maybe I’ll clean up my Goodreads profile after that. I’m learning new normals with my workouts. If nothing else happens, I’ll definitely be able to say I did plenty of pushups and squats. I’m learning a lot of ways to season my oatmeal. We’re actually going to use up all the things in the pantry before we go to a store or drive-thru (tragically, there are no more donuts in this house, but pretending I’m Laura Ingalls Wilder, specifically in the early days when sugar was a treat reserved for Christmas, is helping a little).

There are definitely things to be sad about, too. As much as I miss my parents and want to visit them now that I have weeks off, I know that it’s the wrong thing to do – for them. I get frustrated seeing people who don’t understand the gravity of the situation – this is hard for all of us, but the more contact we have, the more the clock will continue to reset on returning to normalcy.

I’m grateful to all of my Alamo people. We’ve formed support groups, and it is the best thing having so many creative and hilarious co-workers. I love seeing all of the projects they’re working on, and I have no doubt we’ll come back stronger than ever…someday.

My point – and I did have one – was that I’m thinking of all of you. I know that we’re all fighting demons and struggles of all sorts, whether it’s those of us who are suddenly homebound with lots of time on our hands or those who are busier than ever, trying to keep society well and fed even at their own expense.

If you haven’t figured it out at this point, I have very little quality advice. But I will say this: I can’t recommend the summer robe enough. I may even pair it with those fake pearls I always think of wearing, and never do, later.

One thought on “New Robe, New Normal

  1. Sue Novak says:

    And you can dress it up or down with a simple string of beads. Perfect touch!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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