by Heatherann Franz Woods
I am drinking tea because at this point I am pretty convinced the plasma in my body has been replaced with what passes for coffee these days. Looking out my window, trying my best to be peaceful and present, but the snow has melted and there is dog poop to clean up. That bag of garbage needs to be taken to the curb. The garden is full of last year’s leftovers, wind deposited debris and whatever tools I left when I gave up in September. And I should probably cook breakfast. Again.
This tea is not helping at all. Stupid tea.
It is day fifteen of self-quarantine, I think, and I am finally just along for the ride.
My restaurant job disappeared March 16th, the same day the kids were let loose from the brick and mortar schools. Next, the tattoo studio we own was shut down, leaving us and our artists without work and without unemployment options. Two sets of bills loomed, home and business. The kids were stressed, listless and happy dancing on one another’s nerves. (Did I mention we have a household of seven?) My husband was feeling guilty and edgy for not working and bringing home the bacon but trying his best to get in “vacation mode”. I was overwhelmed with my self-assigned job, of keeping it all together.
I spent that week trying to plan everything out. I mean everything. Daily tasks and schedules. Perpetually put off projects I could now tackle in the next few weeks of break. How to survive financially, now and the elusive “after it is all over”. How to become a homeschooler overnight. How to re-schedule our long-awaited honeymoon trip. Meanwhile, the reality of the situation, of how I could manage it, kept dodging me. I took every action I could. I needed to figure out, to understand. I pounded the keyboard and wrecked my eyes staring at the phone screen searching for answers. I messaged people, posted frustrations and indulged in social media self pity. My fear response is to take action. I am a planner. I need to know every permutation to be prepared for whatever possible outcome. But this beast? This is bigger than me.
And so I cried. For three days I couldn’t even put together a sentence. Uncertainty had materialized into a wall, an aggregate of unknown variables and I failed.
So, I suppose the truth is I was a planner.
I have bounced between sweaty ugly panic attacks to sexy calm and cool, from attempting to keep a schedule and some normalcy to midday refrigerator raids and 2am screen time. From impeccable hygiene, including daily showering, teeth brushing and applying a rare touch of make up, to wearing the same yoga pants for seventy-two hours and pretending I can’t find a bra. From creating an hour long culinary masterpiece complete with micro green garnishes (there are photos to prove it) to fend-for-yourself eating cereal from the box. From uber productive days and pure homemaker joy to Hulu binging. And Netflix. And Amazon Prime.
From being angry with myself for not doing enough, not being enough, to finally seeing that this is not at all the time to unpack all the unopened expectations of myself.
I was everyone.
There is no guidebook, no precedent in my life for the unknowing that I am experiencing daily. And so I make it up. I have been gifted the time and the community to define a different way to be in life as I emerge from this. And for now, I am in a place where I have finally given myself a pass, have a little more patience and move with much more grace. The fear is still there but I am all for doing “one impossible thing at a time” (thank you Capt. Jean Luc Picard) because it is up to me to create what my world will look like on the other side of now.
So I am going to watch Star Trek in the bath then maybe find out what has been hiding in the unreachable corners of my kitchen cabinets. Or maybe I will just call a friend.
Heatherann Franz Woods grew up all over, collecting life experiences and old addresses, until settling back in Spokane in December 1999. A freelance writer, backpacker, gardener, plant lover, painter, mother, grandmother and want to be yogi, she is a self-described renaissance woman, still searching and still learning. She believes at the heart of being human is connection. Of living deliciously. Of being in life as love.
Owners of both Grounded Herbs and Edibles and The Missing Piece Tattoo, she and her husband Zack Woods, are cultivating different ways to participate in the community. With seven collective children and two and a half grandchildren, they keep busy but always have time for a chat. www.tmptattoo.com