By the time all this is over, my hair will be gray at the temples, gray at the roots–and not from the stress of quarantine, though it is stressful–but because the gray is something I’ve been covering for years.
By the time all this is over, I wonder: what else will be laid bare that has been hiding in plain sight?
I picture myself in mid-May–or will it be August? Or November? Will we, after so many days unmarked, even know? I’ll drop the kids at school to gather supplies abandoned before their worlds stopped turning. They’ll clean out their desks and discover little bags of goldfish crackers and nutri-grain bars shoved to the back of their cubbies, long forgotten; wrinkled papers covered in math they used to know; spiral-bound agendas whose daily trends toward progress will look, even to them, naive.
No one will be able to fool them then. Tomorrow, it will be clear, is only an idea, a matter of hours.
But it is the hope of tomorrow that still gets me up in the morning. Nine days in to quarantine also means nine days out.
When it happens–when the world opens up again–I will be radiant. So will you.
I will be fearfully, joyfully, wildly gray; kinder, maybe.
I will be older. So will you.
We will enter in to the world then with a tender awareness of the many things we each have been covering up all this time and how they have been laid bare.
It will be okay, whatever you are afraid of. You can’t see the helpers now, but they will be there, emerging from their homes; appearing next to you, where they maybe have been hidden all along; walking alongside you on a road you’d thought abandoned, all your own.
Have you woken up each morning of quarantine and wondered when it will all end? How it will? Me too. See? We are not alone, after all.
One more thought to get you through today, the many hours ahead that will be spent behind your own four walls; the hours you will spend cajoling your children to go outside, to take deep, healing breaths in celebration of those who, as of this moment, cannot fully breathe; the hours that you will hold the sick and those who care for them up to the light; the hours ahead of you which will be filled with buzzing news alerts; the hours ahead of you in which you may feel you are sealing your own leaking boat with paper and scotch tape:
Maybe what we were living before was its own sort of quarantine. There would have been no way for us to know it. We couldn’t have seen.
But in the after that will be, months from the isolation that was and the quarantine that is now, we will see the world differently.
After all this, it won’t be hard.
We will reach out and link arms and find ourselves buoyed by a generosity that had been buried so deep within us that we’d forgotten it was ever there in the first place.
We will find ourselves reaching not only for our hair dressers, but also for one another.
We will see all the grays that everyone has been covering and offer a shrug of dismissal. Of course, they’ve always been there–the roots of things, buried deep, that tell the truth.
We will need to be gentle. We will need to apologize, maybe. We will need to listen, and to act, and to do so as though we were called to it, to do so as though this was all meant to be.