Corona Chronicles, Life & Times

and then, the weeks blurred

The weeks following my great-aunt’s passing were startling in their ordinariness.

Or maybe turning back to the ordinary is how I cope. With no service to attend and no further instruction from my family members down south, I wiped my tears and turned my mind toward my controllables.

And life, as it always seems to, went on.

There were new, four-day workweeks; a trend I hope stays in place should I still have a job in the New Normal.

I went on 30-minute, ~two-mile walks every day for seven days straight. Rain or shine.

I experienced an insane ovulation week in my monthly cycle. I received detailed, dirty prose via text and slinked around my apartment like a panting cat in heat, cataloging all the hard surfaces I’ve yet to christen since moving in last year. Dining room table, kitchen counter, a few walls, and doors. That week deserves its own post, but I’m too prudish to dedicate an entire entry to going cross-eyed with desire or the uptick in what’s already a pretty robust solo sex life. I’ll just admit that I consumed a lot of trashy romance audiobooks and will seriously consider inviting a guest into my Party of One when we’re allowed to be around people again.

I joined the rest of the Black Internet in discussing the legacies of Teddy Riley and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. And listened to a five-hour Jimmy Jam interview where he told a hilarious story about Prince driving by his house and tossing Janet’s Control CD out of his car window shortly after the album was released.

On the advice of a friend who recommended I reacquaint myself with my mirrors, I came home from work one day and slipped on a little black dress. It was purchased years ago, by a version of myself who could just slip on an LBD, swipe on a red lip, and step out without a second thought. Before anxieties about lines on my face and subtle dimples showing through fabric and lack of desire to “beat my face” bludgeoned my once-towering self-regard into oblivion.

Automatically, there she was. The long, lean frame on the just-short-of-petite body that gives me the benefit of appearing tall and “little and cute” all at once. The slightly-curved hips and long legs that even on my worst days, I’m not shy about. And a pair of shoulders that I never admired before but suddenly stood out for their… pride? Yes, that’s it. Tracing their slope to my neck, I discovered a new favorite body part and the reason I’ll probably be short-haired for life.

Turns out “Say hi to those mirrors; they miss you” was damned good advice.

Outside my apartment, away from my job, more people died. More families lost their loved ones. While dumbasses picketed for the “right” to spread a deadly disease because they want to get haircuts.

Then, people started drinking Lysol because the President implied it “could work” and I had to concede that maybe Darwinism isn’t all wrong.

Corona Chronicles, Life & Times

one of thirty-two

As of 6:28 AM, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 32 coronavirus-related deaths in the state.

One of them is—well, was—my great aunt.

She was my late grandmother’s younger sister. One of four girls in a family of eight. The grandmother of one of my favorite cousins. My heart breaks in anticipation of the call I’ll make later this morning to extend my sympathies.

My family will not do what we did eight years ago for the youngest of my great-aunts: descend on the city of Birmingham with love and food and laughs and drinks to hold hands and shed our tears together. We will mourn quietly; scattered across Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Ohio. Over phone calls and text messages and video chats.

My grandmother and her sisters were grand dames; the brightest stars in our family’s far-flung galaxy. Fallen stars deserve to be sent off in chariots. Not silence.

But as I so often remind myself: “deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

R.I.P. Aunt B (middle left)
Corona Chronicles, Life & Times

week two

The text came Sunday morning. The tears, Monday afternoon.

My great-aunt was hospitalized in Birmingham with COVID-19. And as my mind does with everything else, it jumped to the next logical conclusion. So I was sad, but fine. Until I started reading tweets about people dropping loved ones at hospitals and never seeing them alive again.

Then, I openly wept at my desk. And again, writing this just now.

It seems… aloof… to say I spent the rest of the week working, exchanging some mildly flirty messages, watching (and re-watching) The Gentlemen, letting my dishes pile up, and writing my latest fanfic, but that’s what I did. I cut back on the booze because drinking to cope instead of to indulge makes the liquor taste bad. And waking up slightly dehydrated in a pandemic where “headache” is a symptom…

Bad idea. And not in a fun way.

I did manage to have a sober conversation with my mother about preparing for the worst. She’s drawn up Power of Attorney papers and is thinking through her final wishes.

I debated writing this post. It’s been years since I laid myself bare in a public setting. And I’m terrible at accepting sympathy, so none of the comforting things people say in the midst of tragedy do anything for me. For my sake, just send whatever you’d say to me as a prayer to your preferred deity.

There are no cheerful notes to end on, so I won’t.