Linda Rand

Pandemic Diaries: Pearly Everlasting

In Linda Rand’s next Pandemic Diaries column “Pearly Everlasting,” she contemplates the closing of 2020, celebrates her daughter’s birthday, and what she’s grateful for.

 

As the year is ending, it feels like we are still emerging. I’ve learned that with every fear I’ve confronted there is a moment of rest, then a readying for the next bout, like labor pains.

2020 is the year of birth. It is an initiation into a new era of continuous change. Many people act as if things will magically be “normal” when this year is over, but I think this year has intimated that it is only the beginning—a preparation for what’s to come. People seem excited about the vaccine, but I find myself reserved, as I have been feeling about most things since the end of summer. I suspect that I’m recalibrating.

As I organize the house, preparing for my daughter’s celebration, I find some Pearly Everlasting seeds from the end of summer, a symbol of life and resilience.

My daughter was born between two snowstorms. Today she turned four. The year she was born, I was isolated in the house, unable to drive anywhere due to thick ice. Luckily, this day is sunny. We’ll make a seven-layer rainbow cake together from scratch. Her artist brother is presently keeping her amused as they play with a huge balloon, larger than her, filled with giant confetti. It’s glorious. She also has fuzzy animals that you can color with markers and then bathe the colors away with little scrub brushes. It’s adorable. She’s had a great time during the pandemic and that is a comfort to me. She says she is a chicken rabbit kitten and that all my dreams have come true because she is mine. She is right.

Still, I’m cutting myself slack today because I’m dragging. It feels like I’m crawling out of a mausoleum, brushing cobwebs off myself, blinking in the golden autumn light. This week has been emotionally difficult and I’m thankful for the young ones keeping each other entertained.

 

As the year is ending, it feels like we are still emerging. … 2020 is the year of birth. It is an initiation into a new era of continuous change.

 

My heart is bruised from the vagaries of love and COVID is shooting up in Oregon and across the States. Hospitals are filling and refrigerated semi-trailers are being lined up in most states, with Providence Medical Center setting up temporary morgues as well. According to The New York Times, as of an hour ago, we are one of the states with increasing numbers of infected with the numbers staying high. We’ve had over 1,000 new cases daily this month, with over 2,000 on the 4th.

I’ve been strict with sequestering and have been communicating from a distance with people that either live remotely in wilderness settings or practice self-quarantine. I was carefully considering a visit with a friend to fly fish and just found out four of his family members now have COVID. It’s sobering to think I almost traveled, and I have sympathy for those suffering from the coronavirus. It is still just as frightening and mysterious as ever.

It seems we are back to porch visits outside, ten feet apart, with restaurants and bars closed in Multnomah County. Which is what I’ve been doing anyway, except for one person I was luckily in contact with right before the pandemic. But that relationship, though beautiful, is uncertain, and the thought of going without any adult physical contact is painful. I am grieving at the thought of letting go of relaxing mornings, legs and arms entwined, although thankful for being so full to the brim for a season.

So, today, I dragged myself through a selfish miasma of feeling like an adult surrounded by paired couples. I cleaned out the fridge and forced myself to drink a green concoction full of flaxseed oil, maca, spirulina, bee pollen, cucumber, astragalus, and spinach. I felt grateful for my health and grateful for my family and grateful for the beautiful people I know. I’m grateful to be able to run when the weather is nice, five miles at a stretch. I’m grateful to work with plants, fresh plans hatching to emerge with the new year. I’m grateful for my beautiful children and snoring dogs. I’m grateful for art commissions and somehow making it through this year with everyone I started it with. That is everything, really, in a time when so many are suffering from having their community devastated by COVID with little help or guidance from our government. Everyone I know from the beginning of the pandemic is still here.

I take the Pearly Everlasting seeds to strew half over the front lawn where it’s a little rocky and dry. The other half I’ll sow in the spring after the last frost.

 

Linda Rand

Linda Rand is an Art Witch and Wolf Mama living in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in Entropy, Nailed Magazine, Unchaste Anthology Volume I, as well as anthologies Places Like Home, City of Weird, and The People’s Apocalypse, with non-fiction journal excerpts in Fuck Happiness: How Women Are Ditching the Cult of Positivity and Choosing Radical Joy by Ariel Gore. Her artwork has been included in PDX Magazine and the book Oneira: I Dream the Self. Follow on Instagram: @lindapaintsandwrites

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