Wednesday was one of those days… or maybe it was Tuesday… the last day/s have been a blur. My email was hacked, and I was deluged with Facebook messages, Yahoo alarms, and our phone rang off the hook. Everyone wanted to know if we were really out of town, and had I asked them to immediately wire 300 dollars so I could buy my nephew a PlayStation for his birthday?
No! I had not asked for an emergency loan. A good number of friends wrote to say that aside from the request itself, the writer’s voice did not sound like mine. (The request came from Nigeria.) That was flattering: it is always nice to have readers recognize your voice.
I do love my computer, but some days, I just want to disconnect my life from all technology and relive my childhood when two tin cans and a string were the height of long-distance communication. In contrast to experiencing extreme frustration and hours spent reassuring/thanking friends for sounding the alarm, I fantasize about pulling two tin cans out of recycling and looking for some string.
The lines, “The world is too much with us,” comes to mind. Not remembering the writer or the context, I forgave my computer and Googled the answer. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was lamenting the First Industrial Revolution and folks absorption with materialism. Wordsworth continued, “late and soon. Getting and spending, We waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” How current!
I’m always delighted by serendipitous moments. Walking out of the West Custer County Library yesterday, I passed the discard shelf of free (donations welcome) books, and the one title that grabbed my attention was Lisel Mueller‘s book, ALIVE TOGETHER which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. I have the book at home, but seeing the title took me to social distancing dictated by coronavirus and is currently in danger of fraying at the edges. First Georgia, and then… and then… and then someone will write a book titled DEAD TOGETHER.
The first few lines of Mueller’s “Alive Together” poem read: Speaking of marvels, I am alive / together with you, when I might have been / alive with anyone under the sun, / when I might have been Abelard’s woman / or the whore of a Renaissance pope / or a peasant wife without enough food / and not enough love, with my children / dead of the plague.”
Thinking of our sequester (not such a big deal if you live in a village of 600), I found myself wanting to look at paintings of Edward Hopper. I wished to find a picture of a painting that reflected our at-home isolation. I chose to copy “Cape Cod Morning,” but I also discovered an April 27th Washington Post article by Menachem Wecker. The title of Wecker’s piece is “Those who say Edward Hopper is the artist of social distancing may be wrong.” In brief, Wecker writes that Hopper’s focus changed according to the medium in which he painted. His isolation paintings were mostly oils, but his watercolors, drawings and etchings are more varied. It is a good read. If you are an artist or a Hopper fan, check out the article.
The word ‘Soon’ on the Jones Theater marquee makes me smile. ‘Soon’: so much leaway! Maybe this week; maybe next month; maybe in September. When my eldest daughter was trying to toilet train my grandson, he was resistant. Exasperated, Dana would ask, “When are you going to use the potty?” And a master of comic timing, Gus would hesitate and then wink. (Well, he didn’t really wink, but you could most certainly imagine his winking.) And after a pregnant pause, he would smile and say, “Soon.” Too sweet.
Be well. Be safe.
Be thankful that we don’t live on Georgia where social distancing is a thing of the past.