My favorite part of the day is the afternoon. In the afternoon, the shadows get a littler harsher and a little sharper against the pavement. The wind blows cold air into the warm. Everyone seems to step outside their house at the same time in my neighborhood. Brothers and sisters walk together, neighbors take walks deliberately and intentionally six feet apart, partners hold hands, dads go on runs with their young kids who struggle to keep up. It makes me wonder where we’ve all been before the stay at home orders, how we’ve missed each other all this time.
A few weeks ago, my cousin called me from the beach. She was walking her dog and called me and my mom as we were driving home to check that we were all okay and healthy. Then she paused and took a sharp breath in; we asked what was wrong and she sang into the phone, “There are horses on the beach!” She described the scene for us to paint the image so that we could see it for ourselves. The woman smiling on top of the horse, reigning it in so that she could pause and say hello. The sound of the hooves lifting in and out of the sand. Her dog’s barking and the sound of dogs barking around her, trying to understand why there was a horse on the beach. My cousin’s laughter and delight rang through the phone.
Since staying at home, I’ve found myself taking more pictures than ever before. The shadows of trees against the cul de sac are more interesting to me. I take videos of the river in my neighborhood and send them to friends. My friend texts me pictures of what she and her family make for dinner. My friends’ family recently adopted two ducks to raise. Weeks ago he sent me videos of them swimming in their bathtub. Yesterday he sent me a video of them swimming in an inflatable pool outside and they are nearly fully grown. Something feels so crucial about sharing snapshots. They’re sharing the experience, even if it’s asynchronous. Leaving messages and then each picking up where the other left off.
My friend shared recently that on her birthday, she had a dream that her mother told her “expect miracles”. In the morning, she wrote the sentence down and hung up her note to keep the words in mind. She explained that it all made sense to her; if you expect miracles, the big and the small, you will be prepared to notice them when they surface. This is something I’ve been thinking about throughout the week. Turning attention towards the idea of being uplifted, rather than the idea of being disappointed, feels like a step in a good direction. It feels important to remember to look around and notice the things that are growing — the leaves on the trees, the seeds that you planted in the hopes of a garden, the friendships and relationships that grow closer despite the distance, maybe conversations that you have with family.
It feels important and pressing to think in more simple terms. Maybe, stunned and heartbroken by the suffering around us, today can be an opportunity to honor the people in our lives. In some ways, it feels like there is so much more room for misunderstanding now that we can’t be physically present together. Maybe we can’t all read each other’s cues like we can in person. But the intentions as we reach out, as we check in, are so simple. The intention feels the most important now beyond what is said. I’m thinking of you. I saw this chalk drawing on the pavement and it reminded me of the exhibit we went to. This is what the sky looked like today. Maybe we can’t share the day by day together in person in the moment. What I’m trying to remember is that feeling connected, feeling a part of this big effort, may not always be easy. But the miracles seem to be found in the smallest acts of reaching out. A reminder that we are here, we are protecting each other, and we will all be together again soon.
Annie Nields | firstname.lastname@example.org