Patternless

Is it any wonder, as the days roll one into another and we have to check our phones to find out it’s no longer Wednesday but Saturday, that a post intended for Friday doesn’t get published on time? What is time, after all? Just another construct, like the rules for badminton, and the divine right of kings.

The days of the week are named for gods who ignore us now that we’re all contagious.

In this oddly anachronistic moment, I find myself unwilling to think about tomorrow because the part of my brain that creates patterns wants tomorrow to look like yesterday, circa 2019, not because 2019 was all that great but because it is integrated into the pattern. And tomorrow isn’t going to look like that. It’s going to look like today, mostly, only more so, and today is patternless.

It’s exhausting to project myself onto an unfamiliar landscape, there is so much slippage. And so I stay with the immediate demands of the day and know they will resolve into a pattern sooner or later, given a sufficient number of them and a long-enough now.

People ask when my coffee bar will re-open. We’re re-doing the menu, re-organizing the storeroom and the pantry. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. But a re-open date lies somewhere beyond the scope of what can be known. There is insufficient data. My state has begun to ease mitigation guidelines and it is as though the gates at Churchill Downs have been sprung open and people are hurtling once more toward who knows what. Where are you going? I want to ask them. What is so urgent?

A man at the local Menard’s was led away by police for refusing to put on a mask. This is the hill we’re going to die on?

It’s disheartening, sometimes, to be human.

As remedy, I’ve been listening to Howie Kahn’s Take Away Only podcast, in which the journalist talks to restaurant people about what they’re doing and how they’re coping during these patternless coronavirus days. This one, featuring Irene Li of Mei Mei in Boston, was particularly inspiring. When the day comes that I can imagine how tomorrow might look, I think I will want it to look like Mei Mei.

One thought on “Patternless

  1. Excellent writing, Peggy.

    Yes, I’m with you on the “what is so urgent” question… my Mom and I are staying in quarantine to see what happens… I’m feeling grateful that we have food to eat, and hot showers… and awesome black coffee!

    Hang in there with the patternless days… and please keep writing! I really enjoy your posts!

    Sending love from my quarantine to yours,
    Teja

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