By Rosalie Tirella
What an anniversary. What a birthday. What a revelation: A year into the GLOBAL pandemic, and now we get it: WE ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED – bats, Americans, wet markets, Disneyland, barrooms, boardrooms, airplanes, poor people, rich people, librarians, Indians, Worcesterites, Brits, bok choy, Dollar Store cashiers, college professors, cabbies, Trump, Africa. If one of us – or just a few of us, or maybe a small town of us or a rich country of us (USA) – goes all kerfluey and flouts mask wearing rules and social distancing distances, then the merry go ’round that is Covid 19 keeps going ’round and ’round and ’round. And the whole world stays stuck wearing our ugly face-hiding face masks/cloths forever. The scientists call it THE NEW NORMAL; I call it THIS SUCKS. For a very long time.
Boy, oh boy, was I naive when this pandemic thing befell us all!! I stupidly believed I, Rose, had some control over life! So I delayed the publication of CECELIA for two weeks – until the pandemic “passed.” Ha! Like I thought it was the flu – only more pesky. Ha! I was not prepared for old people dying in agony, gasping for air. Alone in the ICU. I was not prepared for body bags and corpses being piled into refrigerated 18-wheelers parked outside American hospitals. I was not prepared for nurses wearing garbage bags to protect themselves from tbe coronavirus or doctors sobbing on the nightly news, they were seeing so much human suffering. I was not prepared for so s and daughters losing their parents – a friend to get Covid – and months later this sexy weight lifter STILL without muscle mass. I never expected to see the Worcester Public Schools shut down for a year! Our classrooms shuttered – Worcester’s needy, neglected, poor kids stuck at home. Books and art class and music lessons and friends and school yard dodge ball gone. Poof!!!
It’s a whole year later and I want a motorcycle. I want to escape. Feel FREE. I want nature, sunlight … the hippie commune in Vermont I lived at when I was 19 years old. Instead, I am home. I’ve gained 20 pounds. I hang out with my dogs watching old movies … EASY RIDER three times in a row. Lilac jumps off the bed in fear every time Peter Fonda and friends drop acid and have their weird LSD trip in that cemetery.
During a global pandemic you can’t board a plane, dance with hundreds of people at a concert, go to a packed church at Christmas or JUST HANG OUT AT THE BROADWAY RESTAURANT ON WATER STREET SIPPING COFFEE at the table by the window, snarling at all the entitled lilly-white upper-incomers who have invaded your old blue collar neighborhood. The love of your life. Now gentrified. You can’t CHAT WITH BROADWAY OWNER BILLY who disapproves of your life choices and tells you so, loudly, Lilac and Jett lying at your feet because Billy is sweet and a dog lover and lets you sneak your pups into his restaurant. The Broadway waitress feeds Jett and Lilac bacon and cheese. That is freedom. That is love: To walk into The Broadway on Water Street and order pancakes with 100 other customers on a Sunday morning. During the week, with your dogs.
Now existence is quite solitary: I write. I watch movies and write about them. I watch cooking videos and write about them. I try to teach myself to cook and write about that – my columns accompanied by my photos of my runny eggs and thin tomato soup … and stills of James Cagney and Dennis Hopper.
My writing has suffered during the global pandemic.
Of course, it wouldn’t have all been so depressing and chaotic if we hadn’t had Donald Trump for our President during most of this first year of Covid. To get re-elected, Trump decided he needed to fake us all out: lie, obfuscate … say the virus would disappear in the summer, like water evaporating off the teeny lake in East Brookfield. Trump pushed the bleach alternative on us and UV light therapy – anything to keep us Americans from doing the right things – things that might have kept thousands of us from catching the virus and dying of Covid 19.
All in all, it’s been a crappy year. If you add American racial unrest/George Floyd-woke-ness, a polarized country with half of us loathing the other half, a recession, hungry Americans, depressed American kids, an ancient (but new!) American president, The Boogaloo Boys, the Proud Boys, the KKK, tumult and violence like we haven’t seen since the 1960s – BUT WITHOUT ALL THE GREAT ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MUSIC – without all the great American writers and essayists – without JFK, RFK, MLK Jr and all the great politicians – without ALL THE AMAZING PEOPLE AND ART THAT LIFTED OUR AMERICAN SOULS, I’d say this is the year America stopped being … amazing.
Rose wants to go to there …