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Pickle Me This

June 8, 2020

Let’s All Take Care

There was a moment when “this all” started when everything felt particularly tender, when “care-mongering” became a thing and everyone was very scared, and I’d never felt more connected to others, to the people in my community and all around the world. And while people have continued to take care in so many ways since then, the general sense of goodwill seems to have evaporated around Week 6, and I get it. It doesn’t sound hard, what those of us who aren’t really going through anything are all going through. Stay home, work from home, carry it, plank the curve—it sounds doable. It is doable, because we’re doing it, but also nobody is bringing their best self these days. I don’t know if people have never been more irritating or I have never been more irritable, and the answer is a knife edge. I’ve unfriended people on Facebook, one person before I delivered a message to “Go fuck right off,” which is not the usual way I conduct myself, on Facebook or anywhere, but I’ve got no patience these days. There is nothing in reserve. I am a relatively stable person with a lot of support, and I was at serious risk of falling apart last week, several times. And if I’ve been struggling, what about all the people without people to hold them up, without the comforts and luxuries that I can count on, people with a history of trauma and mental illness. This collective devastation: never in my memory has there been anything else like it.

It’s too big even for a hashtag (WHICH, ADMITTEDLY, IS FINE).

Do you feel it too, that brittleness, everything so fragile? That care-mongering might be more necessary than it was 12 weeks ago? That even though our devastation is collective, that none of us really has any idea what the other is going through? I am relieved to be feeling so much better after last week’s struggle, but I know that it continues for so many others, and that getting through it is going to have to be collective too. We need compassion, and patience, and understanding, and empathy. We need to stop being furious at our neighbours for wearing masks/not wearing masks/for having playdates/for their furious social media tirades about people having playdates. We need to stop taking our collective helplessness out on each other.

And it’s not even hopeless. It’s been time since I’ve been able to say such a thing with confidence, but it isn’t. And maybe it’s the brittleness, the fragility, the rawness of our hearts right now that made the fact of George Floyd’s torture and murder at the hands of police resonate all over the world. That has made those of us who aren’t Black begin to viscerally understand the pain and brutality of racism in new ways, to ask questions we might not have ever considered before. That same impulse, edginess that led to “Fuck right off” and the Facebook unfriendings are the same rage compelling people to the streets. The pain is everywhere, and it’s spilling over. A river. An ocean.

All we have is each other. Let’s take care.

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