We’re all learning lessons about resilience and gratitude and isn’t that great. Last week my 15-year-old flopped on the couch and said, “Remember when we called it sheltering in place, and now it’s just life?” I squeezed her knee and closed my eyes. Later that afternoon we drove to her high school to pick up last year’s yearbook. A school with 3,000 students and famously crowded, chaotic hallways, the stained gray building is now deserted with a red digital sign flickering, “Congratulations Class of 2020.” On the ride home, my daughter quietly turned the pages looking for friends. A pop song about a sweater was on the radio. At a stoplight, she raised the book so I could see. There she was at a school dance with her arms around two girls.
The next morning, a man swam into me in the Bay. I had been sighting every four strokes, looking for buoys and seals, but he came out of nowhere. Bam, his fist into my side. Wearing a black cap and red swim trunks, he kept swimming, as if through me. “Hey!” I yelled after him. “Hey!” Nothing. I treaded water for a while, adjusted my goggles, and glared at the man’s shiny back heading towards the beach. I fantasized about chasing him, throwing myself on top of him like a rodeo champion and demanding an apology. But of course, I just swam.
That night I called a friend in Australia whose children are playing field hockey and spending the night with friends. I told her our flights to Perth had been canceled. She sighed and said I would have had to spend two weeks quarantining in a hotel room. “By then I reckon you’d have to go home.”
Frustrating moments are piling up like dirty dishes. Some days I ignore them. Other days I look around for someone to blame. Like the man in the water. That’s why he fled. If he had started to apologize, he wouldn’t have been able to stop. I’m sorry for the President. I’m sorry for the racism. I’m sorry for the pandemic, the deaths, and the ignorance. I’m sorry you can’t go to work. I’m sorry pop stars are writing songs about cardigans. I’m sorry your children can only see their friends in old photographs. I’m sorry I swam into you. I didn’t see you.