What can I tell you?
1. I read a quote in a book by Mira Kalman, “The realization that we are all (you, me) going to die and the attending disbelief — isn’t that the central premise of EVERYTHING? It stops me dead in my tracks a dozen times a day.” The Principles of Uncertainty, pg 46.
That is the story of my (me, Lydia’s) life since childhood. No pandemic needed.
2. My boyfriend and I are sitting on the couch discussing an email I am in the midst of writing to my real estate agent and then one to my lawyer about selling the house I’ve owned for over forty years. The realtor is an active Catholic currently at a wake for her father-in-law, the other a Jewish Buddhist friendly with the Dali Lama. I look over at Jim, seated as close as possible without crossing over into and under my skin. I stroke his cheek and pick off a piece of something caught in his stubble, grooming. He notices and comments that there is food in my teeth, and I smile wide and ask whether it’s cream cheese from my delicious bagel, and he says it’s something red, and I am happy. It’s watermelon.
A memory of sweetness.
3. It is a time of great conflict and worry. Mira Kalman writes, “Our history is tragedy and heartache — to the marrow.” The Principles of Uncertainty, page 56. Such is the story of the Jews. I know it in my marrow. I hear the update on Covid 19 and I think plague. I hear the cars of looters screeching around the corner and the yells of hopped up teens as they load the trunks with big unwieldy boxes and race away. I think Kristallnacht. There is no solution other than wholesale revolution, I say. My parents were both Communists. Vivian Gornick’s book of interviews of old Reds has been republished recently. Does she know something important? Is she singing my song? I’m too old to join the Revolution, but I may have to send a donation of some kind.
I am happy to contribute.
4. The other night I listened to a discussion of the current state of affairs by David Frum, a conservative, and Peter Beinart, a progressive. They spoke well and long about the political crisis in the U.S., about the young and old voters, and what will we do now, this November, this critical time in our country’s history. I thought Hitler in 1933 as he took power and was enabled to act without parliamentary consent and without constitutional limitations. My foster father Mendel warned me over and over that it could happen again. I am no fool.
Here we are.
5. It wasn’t Kristallnacht really. I was in L.A. and there were no Nazis, or at least they were not the ones looting the stores of Santa Monica. It was only kids, angry and hyped, getting their own. And yet, what is this time about, I ask. Is it the rise of Fascism, or perhaps simply a readjustment of an imbalanced world? The numbers have changed. White rich men are no longer the majority. Is this the justifiable fall of Rome, death of the dinosaurs? Are we passing the baton? And who is we exactly?
Where does an old middle class Jewish female fall — am I a good guy, or a bad guy? White or of color, rich or poor, victim or perp?
6. I am due to die soon. Maybe not next week from the virus, but perhaps in a year or ten or whatever. Why am I still around anyway? Is there something I am meant to do besides eat and shit and sleep? Why are we all here, eating and shitting and sleeping and getting up and doing it again? I am looking for a reason to continue.
Sometimes I watch the ocean out my window and imagine being a fish or, better yet, a pelican diving for dinner. The sun bears down on the water creating a reflection so brilliant that I am dazed, my pelican eyes blinded for a moment, and then I understand. It is just that — the sun and its reflection, the sheer brilliance that blinds us to the answer, and maybe to the very question itself.
There is just this.