Day 184

Harwich MA September 12, 2020

Things we did to improve the porch this summer: cleaned it up, had the floor repainted and the trim touched up and the walls power washed, obtained two matching tablecloths, hung fairy lights, got the outlet repaired. Voila! The front porch serves as a summer law office for will signings and in-person meetings. The front porch hosts play dates for tweens and hangouts for adults.

Six+ feet apart in the breeze feels fine, save for the fact that when people we love most are sitting there, I want to hug them in a way I didn’t know I would or could want when I took hugs for granted. Will one of the things that happens post-pandemic be a weird sense of wonder about whether we took hugs for granted or maybe we were making that into too big a deal or something? Time will tell about that one, but in meantime, I will place hugs extremely high on the list of things I am missing during quarantined existence.

No matter how wonderful it is to be with the people I adore, the sadness doesn’t lift. The connection and love do transcend enough to mean that spending time together is TOTALLY WORTH IT, more than I know most likely, but also, the sadness does not lift. The lack of ease, the worry about cold weather, all of it just means that fog is so deeply ensconced around us. The sun is not about to burn it off, not yet, not this season, even or this year and according to Fauci, probably not next at least not until late 2021, if all goes well. I mean, MY GOD OR GODDESS.

As we drove through the dark from the Cape last night, that stretch after the Bourne bridge to 90 especially is surprisingly dark for being a popular thoroughfare, we discussed how critical using our porch is for the next month and connecting outside on walks after that until it’s too cold for that. Hosie emphasized (not like on text, but for real) how important it is to push ourselves to connect while we can. “Inertia and isolation are so strong, but when we do connect, we feel so much better,” he asserted.

He’s right. I know he’s right. And wow the cascade of inertia, isolation, defeat and overwhelm is so freaking strong. I feel like it’s bigger than me, bigger than the lovely porch times. I have to remember that when I could see all those legs on the swings yesterday evening while the adults ate dinner and talked, it became clear that we need people. The legs pumped and laughed; the legs laughed and pumped. It was full-bodied cousin happiness, followed by some angry outburst between brothers, but before the anger was joy, and laughter returned fairly seamlessly. Maybe, if we keep connecting for real with the people we love and like, joy and laughter can return fairly seamlessly during and after this fucking ordeal.

A message on Messenger came through during the dark stretch of the drive from lovely Robin Flicker. She thanked me for a postcard I’d sent and apologized for not responding sooner. The delay was because they hold the mail a while before touching it. She’s not in good health and so they are being exceedingly careful. We had a warm back and forth, which functioned like an exclamation point to the notion that we must not lose connection with one another. Connection is the key to not losing our very selves, however melodramatic that sounds (and I think it sounds pretty melodramatic).

A blog post written by my friend Jennifer Grow described the phenomenon of a simple, masked exchange when dropping one daughter off for lacrosse practice, the first drop-off like that in six months. She detailed the gratitude both moms expressed for the normalcy of drop-off, even with these parameters. She chronicled the hope for normalcy, and also the shared fear and anger. Six months into this pandemic, we are all gratitude and swearing.

The swears infiltrate my writing and I do not even consider cleaning up my language on the page. My gratitude is A-grade and so are my curse words. Fuck Trump for fucking us all over like this and putting sycophants everywhere within the government so that it’s become a gargantuan task to keep our eyes open to what is happening. Each day brings some scandal that would take any other administration down, full stop. Rather than full stop, each one is merely a scandal amongst a fire hose of scandals and cheats and lies and grift, to the point where we cannot possibly hold them all in our very smart, discerning brains, not because our brains aren’t good enough, but because there is simply TOO MUCH FUCKERY to hold.

Off the top of my overwhelmed by fuckery and isolation brain, this week’s news included coercion within the government by officials at DOJ, Homeland Security, NOAA, the CDC and Treasury. At least those and to compound matters, many political appointees have been ensconced in positions illegally, with acting people not being vetted and their predecessors trying to change chain of command mechanisms such that the acting can become the appointed without vetting, which of course is illegal, but will likely wind up in court far past November anyway. So, we’d be, will be, voting blind. FUCK.

September gave us a perfect Cape Cod in September day, with cool, bright breezes and a pale but deep pink sunset. Abbie’s coming to the porch today; law clients will come there tomorrow. Despite being cool, we will probably seek pool or lake today. We will figure out how to make Saskia feel special, this day before remote+1 school begins and hope for the best. We are hoping for the best. It isn’t all we can do, but it’s most of what we can do, because these days hoping for the best takes so damn much effort.

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Sarah Buttenwieser

Writer, brainstormer, networker — follow me on Twitter @standshadows