How quickly we move from the season of the furnace to the season of the air conditioner. What a narrow range of temperature we civilized ones demand, unwilling as we are to adapt our work and activities to the seasons or stay within regions naturally hospitable to us.
I’m reading about re-entry anxiety (Google it! It’s a whole new disorder!), doing my fair share of eye-rolling at the infantalizing of the public with tricks and tips for overcoming what would be understood in a functional culture as a normal aversion to crowds and busy-ness, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic.
For many of us, the spaces that have felt most hospitable to us this past year have been our homes.* We are, many of us, reluctant to re-engage with a world we do not trust at the behest of those who have not told us the truth about much of anything for a very long time. This reluctance is not a pathology, though it must become one in order to pretend that the world we stepped out of in Spring 2020 is a world any sane person would want to return to. What passes for normal is not normal.
So know this: that anxiety you feel? It’s not a syndrome. It’s not a pathology. It’s part of a reckoning that includes COVID-19 but is far more comprehensive.
Or could be, if we allowed it. If we could sit with it. If we could let it tell us what it knows: about us, about our narratives, about our culture of denial and abdication, a culture that says, “Don’t ask why. Don’t connect the dots. Don’t.”
That right there is the pathology.
I ain’t got no home, wrote Woody Guthrie, taking a Dust Bowl lament and turning it into a protest.
I left my beloved mountain state because I could no longer afford to live in the community in which I worked. My situation is not uncommon. Montana poet Chris La Tray wrote here and here about his month as a writer in residence in Crested Butte this spring, where the rich own vacation homes that sit empty half the year and the working people who serve them can’t afford a apartment.
And everyone shrugs and says, “What else is new?”
I know. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.
[*Though not all our homes. Domestic violence, housing precarity, and homelessness — all exacerbated by the pandemic — are systemic dysfunctions no more solvable by tricks and tips than any other, even as we continue to foist responsibility for them onto individuals who must somehow overcome along with the rest of us.]
If you’ve read to the end of this post you might be the sort of person interested to know that I’ve added a “Books” page on the site and dropped the price on my two poetry collections to $9.97. I also have a couple signed copies of each available for the same price. Message me if you want one.