Lately everyone’s been telling me how great I look. It started right around early March.
I was just reading an article about how we’re all going to end up with PTSD after Covid, especially if we live in denial about what we’ve been through. So ridiculous. Unless you know someone who has it, or had it, my guess is we will all be dancing in the streets when this is over. Honestly? PTSD? I have a roof over my head. I have food. I have clean water, a pillow I adore, and paper towels. How is that traumatic? I actually laughed out loud when I read that article and switched over to a video about six ways to make your eggs last longer.
Despite the chef/egg expert’s heroic efforts to make an egg last a year, one of the eggs didn’t make it. It turned into a kind of egg Jell-O, and I started crying. It wasn’t the kind of crying anyone could hear. It was the burning-nose kind of crying. The kind that sneaks up on you and makes you feel so sorry for yourself for not knowing you were about to cry, you wish you were crying louder so everyone else could have the chance to feel as sorry for you as you do.
That poor dead egg. It just rotted there on the cutting board.
I ran to the bathroom and watched myself cry. While I was looking in the mirror, I noticed one side of my hair was considerably longer than the other.. I wondered if I chewed it off in my sleep. I have been chewing on things a lot lately. I called my mother to tell her about the situation with my hair. As I was calling, I started thinking about how old she is.
True, she’s perfectly healthy now, but anything could happen. She could get… measles, again.
I made myself a cup of tea to calm myself down, but then I remembered I ran out of eye drops. I could easily go blind before I get up the courage to walk into Rite Aid. Measles probably started in that God forsaken place. What if I contract it and give to my mother? In Florida. I could almost see the measles oozing out of the drugstore door when I drove back and forth in front of it the other day. I wanted to go in, but I was having imaginary leg cramps that morning. Not to mention that I never made it to the frame store before this whole thing started. And who’s going to do all this laundry? Not me! I have a splinter.
I sat down with my tea wondering why I even bothered to make tea. It’s just water.
I was crying again when my husband walked into the room.
“Why are you crying?” he asked.
“Because all of the eggs are dying.”
I started out early this morning Googling, “How long does it take to lose ten pounds on a no carb diet?”
It is now 11:00 AM. I just Googled, “How many calories in an entire French baguette?”
Like everyone else, I’m positive I already had COVID. I’m also pretty sure I still have it, despite the fact that I have no symptoms and have been quarantined since March 12th. If, by some chance, I didn’t and don’t have it, I’m sure, again, just like everyone else, that I will get it any day. In the meantime, we all find ways to cope.
While my friends and family have been keeping busy by doing puzzles, playing cards online and cleaning out their closets, I’ve been pulling weeds out of the driveway to stop myself from googling rare COVID symptoms. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still out there looking for them. While I’m pulling out hundreds of tiny weeds from in between the pebbles, I’m also searching my body for things that look a little off. And then I run inside and yell to Dan to Google them.
“Google wrinkly elbows,” I’ll suddenly yell from the front door, or,
“Can you look up, ‘COVID freckle,’ please?”
He always says the same thing.
“Ok, Steph, but you haven’t left the house,” which is not entirely true.
Recently I heard about an unusual symptom called, COVID toes, that causes the toes to become red and inflamed. Since then I’ve been spending a lot of time pretending to polish my toe nails and secretly looking for red spots.
And then, just as I knew it would happen, I woke up this morning with two bright red knees. I turned to my husband, who was reading the news on his iPad.
“Look up COVID knees,” I said.
“I have COVID of the knee. Look it up. Quick!”
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“For God’s sake, look at me!” I yelled, and showed him the two pink circles. One on each knee.
“I obviously have COVID toe of the knee.”
“Steph, you haven’t left the house.”
I reminded him that we did take one drive to the beach a month prior. But then he made the point that I only got out of the car for five minutes, and that I was wearing a mask, gloves, shoes, and a jacket over my face, and we were the only people there.
We also had to meet the movers at the storage unit a few days ago, but then Dan reminded me I never got out of the car and I kept yelling out the window for him to stay 20 feet away from the men at all times.
Also, there was “the walk,” as I now refer to it. The day we broke down and met our friends outside for a quick stroll. We were all wearing masks but I never said a word the whole time in fear something would fly into my mouth from the side of my mask.
I got dressed and went outside to pull some more weeds out of the driveway. It was the only way I could clear my head.
For a brief moment, I wondered if I’d picked up the virus from the driveway itself somehow. Maybe a delivery person had it on the bottom of his shoe and I sat directly on it, and it somehow got pushed up and into my knee. Anything’s possible, I thought, as I sat cross-legged and hunched over in the middle of the driveway.
Could it be everywhere? I wondered. In the air, in the pebbles, in the dirt, on the very weeds themselves. . .
An hour went by. And then another.
The sun began to get hot.
I went inside to put on the shorts I wore the day before when I was weeding in the hot sun for hours and hours. And then I went back outside to sit in the driveway, in the same position: Hunched over and cross-legged.
It was then that I noticed how my upper body was completely blocking my thighs from getting a tan. In fact the only part of me that was exposed was my knees.
There it was.
The mystery was solved.
I ran inside and grabbed my laptop. Dan was quietly sitting at his desk. He looked up and asked me,
“What happened? Did you see a worm?”
“No, much worse. I finally figured out what I have.”
“Oh good. What is it?” he asked.
I had another heart-wrenching dream last night. This one didn’t involve missing either of my children to the point of tears, but it was devastating nonetheless.
In the dream, I got out of bed and immediately headed over to Bed, Bath and Beyond, where I picked out a shower curtain. The only one they had left was a very ugly dark red, which, right there, qualified the dream as a nightmare.
When it was my turn to pay, I held the red shower curtain in my arms instead of putting it down on the counter.
The cashier looked at me and then at her screen as I handed her my credit card.
“I’m sorry but you can’t shop here anymore,” she said.
“What? Why not?” I asked.
“You’ve been banned.”
“Why? I asked, horrified. “Did I accidentally steal something?” I asked, checking all of my pockets.
“No, you’re not allowed to hold your items. You have to put them down on the counter. Next!” she yelled to the customer in line behind me.
“Wait. Seriously? You can just ban someone for making a mistake?”
I walked out of there wondering how I would go on living. I could always go to Bloomingdale’s or even abc carpet for towels, but what if I needed a shower buddy or one of those pillows with arms? How would anyone but Bed and Bath know what I was even talking about?
I walked home thinking the planet had changed into something with intolerable, horribly oppressive and unfair rules. I put on my face mask and gloves, and got back into bed.
Having vivid dreams?
The other night, I went into my son’s room and picked him up.
In real life he’s 6’3″ so right off the bat I knew it was a dream. If you’re a mother of someone in their twenties, dreaming that you can just walk into your child’s room and pick him up is like finding gold under your pillow. The thing to do is keep your mouth shut and keep dreaming.
When I picked him up, he was holding a toy. I could feel the full weight of him in my arms. He was about two years old, and he was smiling at me. And then he put his arms around my neck and I just stood there holding him. Crying.
“Hungry?” I asked him.
“I just want to play now,” he said, looking down at his tiny Lego.
“Can I have one more hug?” I asked him.
“I’ll give you another hug on Tuesday,” he said.
Me: Is it too early to eat dinner?
Dan: It’s two o’clock.
Me: When did we eat lunch?
Dan: We’re eating lunch now.
Two things that are not symptoms of COVID-19:
- Sprained ankle
Last night I dreamt I walked into the kitchen and we suddenly had a roll of paper towels. There were all sorts of people living in our house and I kissed them, one by one. There was a man playing the banjo with food in his beard. My Uncle Billy was there telling my mother she should wear more jumpsuits. A little girl wearing a leotard was ice skating across my living room. When she turned to smile at me, several of her teeth were missing. My sixth grade teacher was there holding a tray. A lion was jumping up and down trying to reach whatever was on the tray. Mrs. Marshall held the tray up higher and higher. Everyone talked about the tray. What was on it? Why was Mrs. Marshall being such a bitch about it?
A young boy with a dirty face looked up at me and pointed to the other people.
“A man keeps bringing them,” he said.
I will now interpret this dream:
We’re out of paper towels.
Recently someone asked me why I love Paris.
The answer is simple. I love weddings and I love cake, and Paris looks like a giant wedding cake.
Who wouldn’t want to spend the day walking around a cake listening to people speak the language of love, wearing scarves and eating croissants? It’s the most beautiful city in the world. I did my semester abroad there. I lived with a French family and I became obsessed with French culture. When I came home to New Jersey after six months in Paris, the first thing that caught my eye was a huge Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips sign and I wanted to kick myself for ever coming home.
Paris taught me how to eat, how to dress and how to say hello to someone when you walk into their store or restaurant. In fact, if you don’t say hello, you might as well walk right back out, because no one is going to help you.
I wasn’t surprised when my son met a French girl and announced he was moving to France. It was a fait accompli.
Before we visited him, I decided to relearn French to the point that I could have a full conversation with his new girlfriend, and order my entire meal in a restaurant without resorting to my usual Franglish, as in “Je voudrais the chicken.”
My goal was not only to understand and speak; I wanted my accent to be perfect. I especially didn’t want to have to say, “What’s so funny?” every time I said, “Merci” to a French person. Or, in my version of French, “What’s so fucking droll?”
“You’re not rolling your R,” my son said.
“Yes I am, Merci.”
“Mom, you’re saying an entirely different word.”
“Merci, Meckci, Micksi.”
I practiced it day and night. I listened to audio tapes. I bought a French novel and tried to translate it. I only spoke French to my husband for weeks before our trip and I only shopped in French stores.
At a certain point, I heard myself saying,
“Bonjour Madame, Je voudrais une omelette fromage s’ils vous plait and I swear to God, I sounded French. I started speaking only in French in cabs all over New York City. Mostly to myself. And then, the ultimate test, I dreamt in French. The whole dream was art directed by moi in shades of that satiny French pink that I love while French words flowed out of me like pink champagne.
We stayed in the most beautiful hotel right near the Arc de Triomphe. Our bedroom had silk paneled walls with the traditional wedding cake mouldings that I die over and the curtains looked like something you’d see in Versailles.
“I feel so French,” I said to my husband. I had a little pile of pastel macaroons in my lap.
“Oui,” he said.
That’s all he said for two weeks leading up to the trip, whereas I was speaking French in full paragraphs by the time we arrived. It’s amazing what you can learn if you focus on it full-time.
The next morning, I was so excited to order breakfast in French, I practically ran down the street to the nearest cafe. I was twirling in the streets like a ballerina.
“Allons-y” I said to my husband.
“Oui,” he said.
And then we walked through the door of the most adorable restaurant in all of Paris.
“Bonjour, Madame, pouvons-nous avoir une table pour deux s’il vous plait,’’ I said.
She looked at me for a split second too long.
And then she said,
‘‘Good Morning, I’ll get you a menu in English.’’