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Into the Darkness Again Amid the Confines of COVID-19

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I’m sad today as I see the darkness in the days ahead. Numbers of COVID-19 cases on the rise, the days are shorter, and the weather is colder. I wake up and see the clutter around the house and the dust and animal hair that has accumulated due to my lack of cleaning. My anxiety is starting to rise. I want a cleanse. I want to throw away items that haven’t been touched in years and make more space. I need more room, I need to declutter my house and my mind.

I came to work with my cluttered mind. It’s Friday the 13th. The last Friday the 13th of 2020 was in March and I sat in the same wooden chair. That was the last day I sat in my Manhattan classroom and prepared for a short period of remote learning. On March 13, 2020, I left items on my desk that I expected to see a few weeks later, papers to hand back and the candy in my drawer.

When I turned my back on the Lysol and papers in my room, I went home and got to spend time with my family that I never would have had otherwise. I was able to be home with my 3-year-old and do things I never would have gotten the chance to do. We built forts, baked cookies, and spent endless hours outdoors. My husband and I enjoyed indoor date nights and wine on the balcony. The Zoom sessions with my students last spring were pitiful. No one would show up and I felt more like a substitute who was giving work and grading endlessly. I became a teacher for the interaction and seeing that spark when the kids get something or love a work of literature, not to give sheets. I reached out almost daily to the students who struggle with anxiety and depression. As time progressed and the darkness got bigger, they stopped responding.

I took up running, organized closets, came up with activities for my son, sent care packages to my parents, gave myself manicures, and tried to stay in the light. I opened up windows, joined a wine club, cleaned the microwave, bought tons of stuff to engage my toddler. At a certain point, I broke. I had everything I needed — my health, my job, my family, but I struggled and felt ashamed. I got back up and fell down again. I felt trapped by the darkness, the isolation, the rules of the mayor, the differing opinions of my husband, the clutter, the dust.

Finally, some light. I saw my closest friends, my parents — mask and fear in hand. A little bit of normalcy. I had my bubble. Now my bubble is about to be popped. I’m dreading the darkness and hoping that Christmas lights and the sparkle in my son’s eyes will brighten the days ahead.

Photo credit: rabbit75_ist/Getty Images

Originally published: January 19, 2021
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