Updated: May 26, 2021
I have been a bear hibernating and lost in my own dreams for over a year. As the world opens up, I sleepily emerge from my brown cave and squint at the bright sun, and marvel at the greenness of the trees and rolling hills. I see yellow-white flowers on a vine. I rush forward and smell the honeysuckle scent. It fills me with sweetness and a hunger for more outdoor adventures. I long to dance and laugh and sing with others in three dimensions, not just over zoom.
Now that we are doubly vaccinated, we have begun to step out more and manifest those dreams. I gushed over being served a meal cooked by someone else and served by a waiter when I dined out with my sister and cousin last week. Yesterday, my husband and I drove to someone’s house for a pick-up and delivery and got a tour of her house and yard. Then we dropped off discards at Goodwill and drove to FedEx to fax and ship and ended up chatting with the clerks. We rang a neighbor’s doorbell to check in on her. By the time we got home, I felt tired enough to want to take a nap.
As I rested, I pictured a clock. We had spent most of our time driving, visiting, and talking to people. And the day was almost done. In the hibernation cave during the lockdown, I spent most of my days with my own thoughts and house activities. I spent more of my time in my inner world and less time listening to or interacting with others. Being mostly retired, I was able to float around painting all day on Mondays and writing most other days, even completing a book. *
I was excited to see the quarantine end and I now have less fear of getting Covid. It is nice to walk around and share more of my space with others. I crave the spontaneity and camaraderie that only comes from in-person interaction. But today, as I look at the clock, I realize that it takes up my time. It makes my days seem shorter, with less time for my own thoughts.
I thought I wanted to frolic in the grass with the other bear cubs and wrestle and snuggle and laugh. As soon as I tried that, I enjoyed it, but the next thing I knew the sun went down, and the day was gone too soon. As I go back to the cave, I kind of miss how time seemed longer inside my den. Like I was the painter, time was a blank canvas, and from sunup to sundown, I could paint my thoughts all day. It was like time stood still and filled my cup and I think I am going to miss that.
I feel both a longing for and a resistance to socializing. I missed others and am happy to see them again, but in the post-quarantine world, I will need to figure out, all over again, how to set aside time to spend long, languishing leisurely days rocking in the hammock of my own mind.
*Tilt: Seeking Balance in Troubled Times (2021)