I sat all through the isolated night of another numbered day and waited for the quarantined morning to rise out over the sickly and fearful City of Wayne. I waited with smoke-filled eyes, blinking hot and red, not from an underlying undiagnosed infection, but from self-imposed sleepless anticipation and lingering artistic nervousness. I waited with smokey breath, listing and rough, not in dire need of a mechanical ventilator’s push, but rather from the damp warning kiss of a new morning being born before me.
This little locked-down flyover town remains somewhat the same, still somehow in ill-advised touch with its original rhythm and pulse, pumping and pushing on through the breaking light of a new day dawning. It seemed, briefly, as it always was, a deception lasting only until the new numbers of a rapidly climbing body count are later announced in grim statistical fashion. But for that glimmer of an aching hope, it was the City of Wayne that I have known so very intimately over the years. The city of my youth and the city of my moment.
It felt familiar. It felt like home as the deep echoes of a distant freight train came rumbling in, its bellowing horn piercing the morning with the warning of its function and tracked schedule. The light buzz of the early morning traffic humming joined in from the street as the people in this town shook themselves awake to stake their claim upon the day. The birds, chirping and calling, starting their lilting songs before the sun even broke the horizon, provided the chorus to a siren song of a Midwestern melody so familiar to me since I was little, running free with wild abandon all across this City of Wayne.
The geese are still nesting alongside the little creek, running flush from the recent spring rains. The squirrels still chuck and twitch their bushy tails and run around frantically in their uniquely comical fashion. The foxes, which I love for reasons I could never fully explain, still stalk and hunt from the periphery, seldom seen, but always watching and always ready. Even the flowers and plants are starting to announce themselves as a sickly world still tries to turn itself green again and in doing so, providing me with a much-needed reminder of the cycle of things.
Stealing those moments for myself reminded me that there is life out there. And where there is life, there is still hope. So, too, is there still love and beauty, despite what is daily pushed into our faces and our phones, the new headlines screaming out at the crisis and trying so hard to finger the blame.
So much of our daily lives has changed. And only time will tell how much of that change will be permanent. But for now, what we do have is this moment, if we allow ourselves to stop and absorb it for what it represents. We need to take a filtered mask breath and remember what is most important in this temporary and fleeting life- to laugh, even when it doesn’t seem like there is much to laugh about. To love- honestly and openly, leaving no room for doubt or miscommunication. To believe- passionately, in ourselves and in our world, together.
We have become collectively sick. But one day soon we shall be well again. And I truly hope we will make it a better world for everyone.