of dominos and labyrinths

9F1F4878-C5ED-48A9-8C6E-2C7CB08D69BCAnd it is only Thursday.  Now, Friday.

Like dominos.  Like those elaborate domino runs that are impossible to look away from. Got to watch them to the end.  All week, I compulsively check NYTimes.com. COVID19 and the stock market.

Two weeks ago, a group of high school students from Newton returned from Italy and went into quarantine. There were two emails from the school about that and more emails about possibilities and procedures if necessary. On Sunday, there was an email about a Newton resident with a student in middle school who was diagnosed with a presumptive case of COVID-19. The child, without symptoms, was following the quarantine protocol. 

On Mondays after school, Julia usually goes to Asian Culture Club.  It was cancelled but cooking club wasn’t, so she went there.  After that, there was a makeup meeting for the big school musical, Hello Dolly, that was scheduled to go into dress rehearsal next week and then performance.  Monday night, I went to my support group for mother’s of teen girls on the spectrum.  Only two of us plus our facilitator attend. We talk about future meetings online.

On Tuesday, the choir director emailed that the March 22 All Music Sunday was cancelled but that we would meet for our Wednesday night rehearsal and sing something for this coming week. 

On Wednesday, I went to my last HILR class of the semester.  Zoom classes may be up and running soon. In the afternoon, choir rehearsal cancels. Julia’s cello lessons and theater workshop were cancelled for at least a few weeks and perhaps the semester.

On Thursday, the domino run sped up. My friend who lives in Turin, Italy, emails about her time and I tear up. I did not know how worried I was about her.  Church and its services will be closed for four weeks. The Insight Meditation Center for six. Dolly is cancelled. Just before supper, the robocall from the Superintendent of Schools comes in canceling Friday and next week.  He comments that further decisions will be made next week.

The domino run is finished.  At least in our small world. I have discussions on Facebook—I want to know about my friends and their dominos. Compulsively, I check NYTimes.com. COVID19 and the stock market.

Day 1 of the Carona Wars. Friday.

6616D618-C83A-47E5-A466-0384881120F4There is a quiet that sinks in deeply.  Julia and I sleep in and then get up to make waffles, math work of the day, and I am ready to make lists.  I cannot let her just watch youtube video of cosplay skits for hours every day.  This is her first desire.  I want to make a list, give her/us some choices and check off activities on a chart. I want to get going.

She does not.

We sit with a guided meditation and I remember about slowing down. That it is okay to take our time. Our differences, what we usually find reason to fight about, get grumpy about spring from out of our words and postures.  And it is my job, my task of the moment to figure out the way through what may be our labyrinth of solitude. The words have been used before—The Labyrinth of Solitude or El laberinto de la soledad is a 1950 book-length essay by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.

Day 1 of the Labyrinth of Solitude.

I am curious to see how we will fill out the time.  Like waffle badder seeping into its pattern just before I close the lid.  Just before it magically transforms into our breakfast. 

I am curious.  How much directed work?  What kind?  Ease into the work over a few days? During summers, I usually have themes for the work I set up for Julia. I usually set it, I usually do not deviate from what I set up. Can I let this time be something else? I am curious. 

I ask Julia to draw.  These days she usually copies.  The copies can be interesting but they are copies of her favorite anime characters. I explain that I want a picture to post on my blog everyday.  Julia balks.  Too much.  I ask for a picture for today.

And I sit and write this. 

I am curious.  How will this time, which I am sure is a beginning, change for me, us, everything? 

I remember as a child, going to the local high school gym for doses of the polio vaccine on sugar cubes.  Lining up. How serious were the grownups? How scared? I have no idea. My dad told me about the hospital on the hill in our town that was an isolation hospital. We passed it often. I wondered about it but I hardly knew what it meant.

I remember when my friends and teachers and the guys in the plays I was doing started getting sick.  Getting sick often and with strange ailments.  I remember before AIDS and knee deep in AIDS going to funerals. I remember fear and such sorrow.

Now this. A labyrinth of a time, a domino run. No answers; hardly knowing the words for the questions.

Julia draws.


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