There’s a mouse, or something else alive, scrabbling around our living room wall. It’s almost a comfort at this point—though I wouldn’t want to meet it—that this unseen tiny neighbor is keeping warm after so many weeks in whatever warren it’s carved from the crumbling plaster and lath on the other side of the wall. It keeps inscrutable hours, seemingly nocturnal and diurnal, industrious and noisy and then suddenly silent.
Otherwise, the apartment was quiet today. Quiet, save for the audible sighs coming from my own constricted chest. Mercifully, I’m sick only with worry, about the virus and my three small children, but mostly worry about the possibility that we’ll be told to go it alone again. Buckle up, keep them home, carry on. As if any of that were possible the first time around. As if we haven’t all been left without life rafts.
We’ve taken down our paper garlands and stockings and our motley collection of ornaments, but the Christmas tree remains standing. It’s more fragrant now than ever, and wearing only its lights as decoration. I’m embracing it as an oversized talisman of a bright year ahead. Hope springs eternal, thank goodness, and I’ll take every pagan ritual I can get.
Today I whittled my inbox down to the essentials. I chased payments and worried over invoices. I put on a pot of beans. I tried to move gracefully from working in a quiet apartment with a scrappy mouse for company to navigating the converging energies of five whole humans at the end of their long days. I have told myself that seven year olds are unreliable narrators, that not every other mother at school has tested positive, that maybe these scratchy paper masks with seams down the middle and wires over the noses will mean we escape this surge unscathed, or at least negative. I have thrown away a microscopic toy gun given to my four year-old by a well-meaning neighbor. I have not felt sorry for it. I have washed pee from impossibly tiny undies. I have loaded the dishwasher and dabbed essential oils on pillowcases and poured a makeshift snifter of whiskey.
Other things I will do in January:
+ Light the candles.
+ Dip into summer jam jars.
+ Moisturize my feet.
+ Pot more bulbs.
+ Use my face masks.
+ Mend my mitten thumbs.
+ Reserve summertime campgrounds.
+ Allow my mind to wander.
+ Write the book proposal I couldn’t write last January.
+ Read the books I haven’t.
+ Forgive myself when I can’t.