I Miss the World

It’s been over a year since I’ve hugged my family.

It’s been over a year since I’ve performed on a stage.

It will soon be a year since my partner and I have welcomed friends into our (then new) apartment.

It will soon be a year since I’ve gathered in the homes of friends, crammed into crowded living rooms for birthdays or holidays or just because.

It will soon be a year since I said “See you soon!” and didn’t know that it was a lie.

None of this is unique to me.

The script for a show I never got to do and the monologue I learned for an audition that never happened, for a repertory season that never was, still sit on my desk. They are now buried beneath other things. But they are still there. Waiting. Reminding me of the time that’s been lost.

I have been exceptionally fortunate in the last year. When both my partner and I filed for unemployment due to loss of a job in his case and reduced work hours in mine, we encountered no problems. The money arrived promptly, unlike for so many others who languished (and who I know still languish) in the cogs of an overwhelmed system. I am able to work from home. My partner’s remaining job does not require him to interact with the public. Eviction from our then-new apartment was never a concern. And even if it was, we would have had places to turn to. Our loved ones have taken, and continue to take, the pandemic as seriously as we have since the beginning. Our worry for them is of the general sort that we all harbor these days, and not from reckless acts that we are unable to prevent.

And though I have lost count of the number of people that I personally know who have contracted Covid-19, and though the road to recovery has not been easy for many of them, none of them have died.

Today, that is true. I hope that it stays that way.

I have been unbelievably fortunate. Personal tragedy has thus far avoided knocking on my door. And on a micro level — on the level of day-to-day life in my apartment which has been both cage and sanctuary — things don’t look too bad, considering.

I have not allowed my focus to expand too much farther beyond that. Not for too long.

Because the rage at all that has happened and all that has been lost is too hot, too blinding, too much to look at. It is a monstrous, shifting thing that is too large, too profound for me to reckon with.

Nearly 500,000 dead in the United States alone is a statistic beyond my comprehension. My mind cannot grapple with it. My mind knows but cannot understand the scope of that loss. Because to understand is to unleash the primal scream that has lived in my throat for the past year, trapped like a wild animal searching desperately for release. I do not have enough breath in my body to sustain all that lives within that pent-up howl.

I cannot look too far beyond the day-to-day, because when I do I am reminded of other countries that reacted swiftly and decisively and whose residents are currently able to go about their lives while we are still in the middle of the nightmare and it is unbearable.

Because it is a reminder that it didn’t have to be this way.

Because it is a reminder that it is this way because people in power allowed it to be so. People in power allowed hundreds of thousands to die. People in power allowed a year’s worth (and counting) of our lives to be stolen.

And we’re the lucky ones. We’re still here.

I am not yet ready to examine that rage, which in actuality is grief. Not when we are still in the muck. Not when “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day”, and we are forced to search for something, anything, to bring light and joy into our lives because it’s either that or go insane.

The writing of this essay is the longest that I’ve dared to stare it down. I do not like where it is leading me. But I needed to purge some of these feelings. I needed to name them. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

And so I will continue this exercise in patience. I will continue finding things that bring light and joy into a frightening world, because what the fuck else can I do? I will continue to endure, because in spite of everything there will be better days on the horizon.

But I miss my friends.

I miss my family.

I miss the world.