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I Will Try Not to Breathe

“I will try not to breathe
I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees
These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold”

I will try not to breathe, I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees, These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold. Pregnancy and pandemics!

The other day I went for a drive alone (well, with Lucy) to the library for their curbside pickup.

I had told the kids, “I’m leaving the house and I need to be alone, so I can breathe without hearing your incessant and systematic torture of one another.” The best part about all of it is that when I got home, Scarlet was quietly building LEGO characters out of Little Women characters and telling Des all about each character. “Des, I take a lot of Little Women quizzes to find out which character I’m most like. I always get Jo. Jo is cool. Mama got Beth, but Beth is tragic, and Mama likes Amy best. She thinks she should like Jo best, but she can’t help but love Amy. Maybe she’s a mixture of Jo and Amy, and a tiny bit of Beth.” I am all of the little women.

“I will try not to breathe
This decision is mine
I have lived a full life
And these are the eyes that I want you to remember, oh”

rainbow sprinkles face mask

And of course, we can’t forget Meg. I like her too. When I’m driving to the library, escaping my house, I’m probably most like Beth – gulping and gasping to get a good breath and worrying about my heart. Not because I have to worry about my heart, but I do in the metaphorical and the physical ways. I put my hand there to steady the beat, and to have the beat steady the me, when I need it the most, which is often. Ever feel like you’re dying, when you know you’re probably not dying? The symptoms of pregnancy, anxiety, allergies, and COVID – they can all take your breath away. I’ll try not to breathe, when I have to go to a store in public and see someone wearing a mask with their nose out. It’s like how Des tells us to drive past a cemetery.

“Hold your breath, Mama.” As if it’s the graves we have to worry about these days.

“I need something to fly over my grave again
I need something to breathe”

I will try not to breathe, I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees, These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold. Pregnancy and pandemics!

I worry a lot these days, that I’m dying. That’s what I worry about the most during the most stressful and horrific of times. And it’s never because I’m dying, at least not yet, but it’s because something is being reborn. I have to remember that each time. Through gulping and gasping drives through the countryside, away from bickering kids and grumpy or gruff family members, and mischievous dogs. Away from people wearing their masks with their noses hanging out, and misinformation about diseases; disinformation about maladies. And then the melody hits.

It always does at just the right time. R.E.M. comes on during a country drive.

“I will try not to burden you
I can hold these inside
I will hold my breath
Until all these shivers subside
Just look in my eyes”

oh my god, Becky. look at her butt

To paraphrase my husband paraphrasing John Mayer on last Friday night’s Shakedown Stream, about the quarantine lifestyle: “It’s not just that the novelty has worn off….but the novelty of the novelty has worn off.” And I get that. I think we all do. What used to be a big opportunity to garden and bake bread and edit photos and be romantic and get fresh air and live in hope, has lost any shine and brightness it had. And mind you, that shine and brightness had to be found deep within. We never forgot about the horrors going on far away from us and around us; it’s just that we had kids and puppies and lovers to get lost in and believe in, and to breathe in. To breathe it all in. Breathe them in. It was easier to breathe when we thought it was temporary.

Now it’s foggy and murky and dark. The light is there, but at what human and sanity cost?

“I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
I shudder to breathe”

I will try not to breathe, I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees, These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold. Pregnancy and pandemics

I think a lot, of course, about how lucky I am – to have these quarantine people – and to not really be missing crucial life events because of the pandemic. It’s more the pregnancy. I wouldn’t be traveling anyway, and I wouldn’t be working away from home. I’ve had two magical Bruce Hornsby events with him either looking right at me or saying my name aloud on air. I see Glen Phillips on Facebook Live three nights a week. My job is pretty much as busy as ever. The home renovations are underway and this pregnancy is too. If life has to stop, it should stop here.

And I just mean to pause; I want to go, go, go again too. Light and free.

dogs watching through window

I think a lot, unfortunately, about how incapable I am – to be unable to cope with stress and anxiety – but to have no other choice. Trapped. There’s no way off this speeding train; no stop to breathe and play and hope and dream. Unless we find it within ourselves. What I seem to be missing are essential tools to get through this without coming apart at the seams. More hands to hold, more support outside of this house, more steady ground, and the beliefs I used to hold without question. That we were all (or mostly) good and light and love and going to be all right.

“I will try not to worry you
I have seen things that you will never see
Leave it to memory me
Don’t dare me to breathe”

I will try not to breathe, I can hold my head still with my hands at my knees, These eyes are the eyes of the old, shiver and fold. Pregnancy and pandemics

I still believe it, in everything I say. I still believe in it, in everything I do.

In the good and the light, the passion and the drive, and the hope and faith it takes; will take. It rises and falls; sleeps and wakes; with highs and lows, and many creamy middles. I can’t control so much but I can control what I still believe, about humans and about myself, and what I’m capable of; holding a spark in my hands and not letting it die. Let it shine, let it grow, let it glow.

And we will breathe again.

catching tadpoles

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10 Comments

  1. Yes, the novelty has ward off. And I got word last night that three of the surrounding counties have canceled IRL school for virtual. It means our will announce soon, and I am just crushed. I try to stay positive. We’re healthy, we have jobs, and haven’t had to miss out on the MAJOR stuff (yet, hopefully not). But the kids. The impact of this will truly affect them for the rest of their lives. Surely they won’t be called back this year – not in winter, and post-winter? April? That’ll be a year. One year of missed education. What’s going to happen? It’s so unimaginable. Ugh!

    1. It really is. And when will they fully go back and stay safe? 2021? 2022? My kids are doing well, but how long can any of us sustain this?

  2. I had my first run in with a client that refused to wear a mask (we require them in our hospital) and it was actually scary. He threw the mask on the ground that I gave him and tried to enter multiple times. As happy as I am that we require masks I get worried about someone being violent towards us.

  3. So many feelings to unpack Every.Single.Day here. And to be honest I really am not even sure where to begin or what to feel. So, I will say this I long for a time when things can just feel a bit more normal again. Until then, I will try to do my best to do what works for my family and I, which at this point includes masks and social distancing still when necessary. And to anyone who doesn’t agree I pretty much just steer clear of them for now. Might sound harsh, but I don’t have time for it. Life is too damn short and still want to be around to enjoy as much of it as I can for years to come hopefully. Hugs <3

  4. I’ve talked to a couple of people who say that life hasn’t really changed much for them. I think this event hit at a good time for you, when you can be home and caring for yourself. Of course, I fully support an escape now and then for some “me” time. I heard Burger King now has mini shakes:)

  5. Yes, sometimes you need to jump in the car to get some peace and quiet LOL. You even look beautiful with a mask on! These are unprecedented times and we’re all just trying to do our best (yet there are the ones who refuse to cooperate) and the shine is definitely wearing off. I guess I don’t understand why some people refuse to wear a mask. It’s just nonsensical. Anyway, you’re doing great, looking great and the baby will be wonderfully healthy. Love all of your photos as always, Tamara. I especially enjoyed the one of Des looking out the window with the two doggies. So cute!

  6. There you are in a certain situation in a certain frame of mind, and just the right song suddenly appears that you can relate to and connect with. Magic in the music! As the weeks and months have passed the novelty and the novelty of the novelty have morphed into the new normal. Believe indeed Tamara! We must all believe through the weeks and months ahead us. We’re still on the plus side and able to talk about this outbreak and all that it has caused. You’re right! We will breathe again with the masks in the boxes from which they came. That will be a most welcome change!

  7. The maskless crusaders… I just don’t get their whole cause. It takes so little to make a difference—that can have such a wide reaching ripple effect. Why is this such a hard thing to grasp?

    I wrote about the library today too, funny. Such a simple thing but having books to read sometimes feels like the best kind of escape. Speaking of escaping, I’m glad you had a kid-free drive—as much as you love your quarantine tribe, it’s necessary to get out. Tonight I had a friend stop by and it did wonders for my soul. Human contact—there’s nothing quite like it.

    These are strange times. The shine has worn off, we’re all tired of banana bread and cooking and sorting and gardening and Netflixing. I crave normalcy something fierce. Thinking of you and sending you much love, momma, ❤️ Stay safe

  8. Someday I will write about Arizona and my family, but it’s too hard right now. Not even posting on FB about it. Some things are too private. Someday I will talk. Oh this balancing act. Some days all I can do is breathe and keep my heart rate down. It’s definitely murky, but the sun does shine through and there is so much good that helps to clear the murk. That is what I try to focus on when even breathing gets hard to do.

    Hugs my friend!

  9. If we all wore masks back in March/April, we might not be in this situation….It’s so unreal at times. I too believe that people are mostly good, but so many are just angry….. I love seeing your beautiful pregnant photos! They make me smile.

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