Years that Bind

I’m the “strong friend.” The ones those online posters tell you to check on, but who you may never know what’s truly going on. Not that I’m proud of that. It’s because I have designated people who have been tried and trained to help me carry my loads. I like to appear lighter for others.

I thought that 2020 would be a personally hard year because of things that my family was going through. It was by far my hardest year in many years, where I spent countless nights only sleeping 3-4 hours and my anxiety at its highest levels. But then the world joined me. And the distance I kept at the start of the year from many became the forced distance we’re all keeping for a shot at coming together again physically.

I want to rest. I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to feel the flood of relief and tension drain from me each morning when I wake up not sick. I don’t want to feel the flood of relief and tension leave my body when loved ones are healthy still as well. I’m not just waiting on the other shoe to drop – I feel like I’m waiting on an entire hailstorm of boots. What umbrella stops this?

I’m a creature of travel. I travel constantly for work and often for fun. In 2018 I took 52 flights. Airports are a second home, despite my disdain for them, and now that home has vanished. I’m grateful for making it to Thailand in February, and though we were anxious traveling there and back, while we were there the sunshine on our faces and wildly beautiful country made us forget that the world was quickly shifting around us. There were almost no travel bans when I left February 15 for Thailand. The entire world is shutting borders now to contain the spread of COVID-19. I miss sand between my toes and the touch of my hand on my face without the action of recoiling in fear. I miss even the normal of a year that already threatened to take so much.

So I try routine. I see my therapist and we talk about what we carry. I step outside and breathe fresh air and follow along with a dance workout video. I learn to build romance from afar. I pick up a book and finally start it. I write. Finally Again.

Maybe I’m coming home to rest during the most violent of hail storms. Maybe I am the umbrella.

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