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September 23rd, 2001 was a strange day. Mom-in-Law urged us to go out and celebrate our wedding anniversary. We both felt rather numb and confused by the situation. We felt like this is no time to celebrate. We had a gift card for a place we’d been meaning to try, we heard the food was great, and Ellen was ready to babysit our son. Why the hell not, I guess. It was a most interesting evening at the Lobster Place*, a meal we’d never forget. There’s something wonderful and charming about being dressed to the nines and walking in to what was essentially a cafeteria, the only diners there. We ate fresh fish on plastic plates, tables draped in red and white-checked plastic, drinking coffee from plastic cups. We were out of place, it felt a touch surreal, but it was a good night in a terrible time.

It was hard to know how to behave in those early 9/11 days. Everything was uncertain in ways our Gen X had never seen. We were stricken, wounded, counting our living and dead, wondering “what’s next” and how do you go back to work after something like this? I wandered grocery aisles looking at soup cans like, “What am I even doing here?” It wouldn’t be the first time I felt that way. Every time I lose someone I love, it’s the same thing: Am I really stirring soup? Am I really folding socks? And why the fuck why?

In January I began to worry about COVID-19. I’d heard about it but had no idea how real it was going to be. It is March, and I’m in week two of social distancing which is hilarious because if I get any more socially distant I’d be in a pine box pushing up daisies. I have my books and notebooks and pens. There is an ocean out there that speaks to me endlessly. What more could I want? I don’t want to be bothered and I try not to bother anyone around me. I can be social when I choose but I am not a team player: I’d rather be home watching the game, shouting at your dumb play safely and ignorantly from the comfort of my home. And now all the weird things are happening, like I understand why the young people hit the Florida beach on spring break because there is only One spring break (and graduation) that may happen in our lives. Weird things like people hoarding TP. This isn’t the blizzard of ’77 when nobody could get to the store for a week because the snow was piled ten feet high. Weird things like being asked to stay home with the people we love, the children we brought into the world because we wanted them, and then complain and ridicule them endlessly on social media. Weird things like measuring the worth of our Greatest Generation against a woozy economy. I feel woozy about my place in the world. What I want, what I need. How to worry, when to worry, and dealing with the shock of people who say “I don’t care about Italy’s dead, I am with America first.”* It’s weird trying to manage how to deal with soulless people without losing myself in the abyss. And all that, the weird, the worry, the sorrow, is ok.

So it is March 25th. There are a lot of numbers out there ready to overwhelm. I hope to do more than wander from room to room avoiding social media. I hope to create and help in some small way where I can.
In the meantime, I haven’t forgotten.

*name changed
*trumpist who has 500K viewers