Or How My Brother Lost His Head
Patricia Grady Cox, April 23, 2020
My brother is not visiting me this week. He should be, but the Corona virus worries have kept him off a 7-hour flight and he remains in Vermont. He would have arrived yesterday evening, so this would have been our first day of vacation.
Last night I printed out a life-size image of his face. This morning I hung a shirt that belonged to my father on one of the patio chairs and taped my brother’s face above it. It was realistic enough that my dog Sally growled at it. I tucked a coffee mug in the crook of the sleeve and then made a video. I narrated the day’s plans – plans that would have been lovely. After coffee on the patio and a leisurely breakfast, we’d drive to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, then visit a childhood friend who lives in Apache Junction. We’d all have dinner at a funky restaurant with an outside patio that welcomes dogs.
It was supposed to be funny. But after I sent it, I realized it was kind of sad.
I thought I would sail through this social distancing. I write novels, so being “forced” to stay home meant I’d get lots written on my current work-in-progress, and I would send out a million queries seeking an agent for my third completed novel, The Cabin Door.
This is how many words I’ve written: 0
This is how many queries I’ve sent: 0
I didn’t realize how busy I used to be. I mean, it’s not like I have an actual job. But then I realized that every time I took a shower, the dogs ran to their places, expectantly awaiting the treats they always got when I left the house. But now I don’t leave the house. At least hardly ever.
Here is a photo of the park where I walk my dog. The dappled sunlight is pretty. The yellow caution tape and warning signs from the Department of Health festooning the picnic tables and ramadas . . . not so much.
I used to go weekly to a critique group, to the movies, have lunch every Friday with a friend, meet another friend for coffee or breakfast, take my dog to obedience class. Monthly I went to a book discussion, and often attended a dinner party at a friend’s home. I had been going to a monthly coffee social at the Phoenix Art Museum. Then there would be physical therapy, doctor/dentist appointments, runs to the supermarket anytime I needed (or wanted) anything. And, of course, other visits with friends or occasional classes, etc.
All of a sudden I go . . . nowhere.
I’m used to long stretches of solitude, just me and the dogs. But not this.
So, after a solid month of “social distancing” I have no announcements, no sales pitches, no anything to share as an author. I’m hoping I’ll be more productive in the coming month! In the meantime, please join me in staying home and staying safe and being healthy. I hope this note finds you all well. I’m well aware what a nightmare this has been for many people – grieving families, essential workers, nurses, doctors, those who have lost jobs, those who are sick. I hope those of you reading this are all dealing with whatever restrictions, losses, or worries you’re suffering (feel free to drop me a note and let me know about that), and I will remember to be grateful that I have a home and a yard and two dogs to keep me company.
And I have my pseudo-brother, although the wind just decapitated him and his paper face is flitting around the patio. I think I’ll go take care of that. Maybe after I tape him back together, he’d like to join me in a second glass of wine.
How are you coping? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment.
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