Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Guest Columnist: Healing Times

Editor's Note: La Bloga welcomes Guest Columnists. La Bloga encourages Guest Columnists. Raza interests range widely, arte, artists, collecting; literatura; food; health; memory. Today's Guest Columnist writes geographically from East Texas USA, and physiologically from the heart of GOPlague Country. La Bloga wishes Maria Miranda Maloney well, and all our gente, as we confront this GOPlague.
•michael sedano

Healing Times
Maria Miranda Maloney

December ends in hot and breezy days. 

The air carries the scent of the Gulf of Mexico, distorts our vision with its constant heavy morning drizzle. 

Outside, birds warble, roosters crow, and the wind sweeps swiftly among the last remaining leaves that cling to bare, twisted limbs of the giant Oaks surrounding my property. Behind this curtain of nature, the screech and growl of a trash truck makes its way slowly through the neighborhood. 

There is something to be said about today: It's beautiful. 

It's as if I am standing at the edge of the shoreline, and the ocean's breeze rouses my skin. There is no day like today. I also have Covid for the second time this year. 

The virus moves silently inside my body. Except for the congestion and the static noise in my head, I feel relatively well. I write the latter with trepidation because my tomorrow is uncertain. 

Experience and science dictate that there is no such thing as a “mild” case of Covid. To announce that one has a “mild” case of the virus is to say: For today, I am alive. I am breathing, but the uncertainty consumes the mind. 

I give instructions to my family; what to do if things escalate. What to do with me. 

I picked up the Omicron virus, the latest variant sweeping the nation. 

I know the place and time it entered my body. I saw the signs around me that I choose to ignore because I wanted badly to be with family, to share a milestone with a loved one. But there were flags all around: people unmasked, eyeing me curiously. 

This was an East Texas town filled with unmasked people. At the restaurant that afternoon, I was the only one wearing a medical-grade mask, and as I bit into my celebratory meal, I breathed, too, the virus-laden air. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming, so much as accepting, that I tragically exposed myself knowingly, even when I understood the choreography of this virus and the dense obsessiveness of this East Texas town to defy CDC and Fauci’s warnings. 

There's sadness, too. 

My mind reckons with the past two years since the pandemic began officially in U.S., on March 13, 2020, by Proclamation 9994, when the deliberately unmentioned in the White House, finally declared a national emergency:  Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was pandemic. 

I say the past two years because the rest of the world was already dying before deliberately unmentioned conceded to reality. 

China and Italy were dying. The news reported daily on the devastation, cameras panning the desolate streets of Italy. I read messages on social media, Italians begging everyone to take the pandemic seriously. 

I don't remember the first day of quarantine, when the sun was out. I remember the night. The awfully silent night, thick with humidity that swelled against the outside of my bedroom windows. 

There was no last-minute rush of engines to the grocery stores or whatever human sounds condense the night. Instead, for the first time since I moved to East Texas, I heard the whimpering of coyotes close by; perhaps, scavenging the neighborhood for food or wandering at the edge of the national forest; perhaps sensing safety that no bullet would find them. 

I listened to the squeal of bats outside the house, circling the top of our home, and the incessant chirping of crickets. 

As the quarantine moved into late Spring and the nights stretched brighter, the nocturnal sounds of creatures became my companions. They made me forget the isolation manifesting itself in my tearful bouts and anxiety attacks during the day. 

What is it like to live in these days of pandemic and dissent? 

When deliberately unmentioned made himself god, the world was no longer safe. The U.S. broke down, opened wounds, festered in hate with a scent like a body dying. 

But there was compassion, too, in the folds of our beings, with friends reaching out through social media, virtual meetings, in texts, and telephone calls. We connected, made new friends online. 

There were family deaths. People we loved died. Then, too, people we loved turned away from us. For many of us, our homes became a microcosm of the world outside, a dysfunctional system of opposition and unstoppable disease. 

My home became a battlefield of politics and skepticism toward the virus. And we suffered for it. Our lives were a corkscrew, twisting and turning, pulling and pushing, watching only the bubbly life we had created remain intact in the bottle of our minds. 

What have we become?

I grieve my losses—emotional and physical. I grieve the loss of a life I thought I had. 

The pandemic has exposed our vulnerability as Winter exposes the Oaks' limbs. Somedays I fear what I've become, or discovered, about myself. The darkest part of me uncovered that I cannot hide. I also unearthed my yearning to live a life of beauty and substance. To bare myself down without excess or want for more. 

I've learned to navigate this new world, but I'm exhausted. I'm mostly exhausted of the constant polemic on social media and news shows; exhausted, yes, even of those I love who still make light of everything and the seriousness of our reality. 

When we had the opportunity to come together as one country, one community, one family, we didn't. There were some communities who worked together to curb death, but not here. No, not in the place where I make my home, where American exceptionalism, it’s mantra, is a delusion of grandeur and righteousness that leaves no room for discernment. 

As it turns out, American exceptionalism is the disease. Its distorted concept of humility masks lack of self-love. Its distorted love of community warps into a practice of arrogance feeding off humiliation of others. 

And when this is over, if it is over, this pandemic, we're still left with our condition: immeasurable trauma. 

For many, our bodies carry the traces of the virus we suffered. And there’s the emotional trauma,  residues of lost relationships and lost dreams. 

Trees tell their story. Limbs stretch, twist, bend, grow boney, thick, calloused, strong, weak. Limbs will break when a strong wind pushes against them. We are like trees, too. We are like their limbs, bearing our winters in our exposed skins, detailed with the rabid hurricanes; the fears and losses that leave marks as if any other wind will break us.

Yet, many of us remain connected, hopeful for another better spring of rain and new life. Our limbs are carved with wisdom, too—all we weathered these past two years. 

I hope tomorrow I will awake and see the Oak before me and say out loud: "We lived, and we’ll live through another year." 

Maria Miranda Maloney is a writer, poet, founder and  publisher of Mouthfeel Press. She is the author of Cracked Spaces (Pandora Lobo Estepario Press, 2021), and The Lost Letters of Mileva (Yauguru 2019 & Pandora Lobo Estepario 2016). She writes from East Texas.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lovely writing. I can feel and see your East Texas. Thank you for this post.