Two years minus two days ago, I went to see a Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the Ritz and then dancing at Ulana's. Two years minus one day ago, I brought you with me up to Brith Sholom House for a tenants' rally.
You were pretty bored but they did have donuts, and many senior citizens to exclaim over your cuteness.
That's Ms. Jackie (pictured at an earlier protest). She died later that year.
Two years exactly ago, I went out for an extravagant birthday dinner with seven friends. It was the last time I saw Alice. She died too. In my memory that meal feels lavish and biblical, with our private room and our sparkling wine, the darkness around the edge of the image.
It was a good last weekend.
I went back to the restaurant for my birthday this year. It was quieter, just me and Ben. Instead of the private room we sat on the patio by one of those fiery tower heaters. The concrete walls around the patio are topped with barbed wire, so it did feel a little like we were eating expensive pizza in our post-apocalyptic security compound. We split a bottle of the same Lambrusco I liked so much, a different vintage year but still, the server assured me, bone dry.
The pandemic isn't really over, of course (will it ever be?), but it does seem like the two year mark is when we're all moving into a new phase of it. It's just different phases for different people. Things are looking up, unless they're looking worse than ever. A total degradation of consensus reality.
Two years does seem like a good time to assess what changes, internal and external, are permanent. I threw myself into the purifying blaze of a thousand Zoom meetings, trying to figure out just what exactly we are supposed to do about anything. Now I'm on the other end, burnt out to a crisp, still trying to figure out just what exactly we are supposed to do about anything. Again and again, the resident committees at Brith Sholom and the other buildings collapsed. Is it because we aren't organizing hard enough, or not doing it properly, or or or...
But at least one building got the heat fixed. A lock repaired here and there, a ceiling patched. Slow learning. Slow growth.
Unlike a 7 year old, say, limbs longer every time I look. It's hard to tell what has changed in you that would have changed in some other direction if circumstances were different. Seems likely enough that your interests (geckos, rock climbing, Imagine Dragons, movies based on video games) would be about the same. Maybe you'd be a little less emotionally dependent on the cats. You definitely don't seem traumatized by mask-wearing.
Not to get too pop-psychology but you seem far ahead of me in terms of integrated personhood, although maybe it's just easier to feel whole before adolescence comes around to smash up your shit. My fractured brain can barely read more than 1,000 words at a time these days. This newsletter is the first thing I have written in ages, although I think about all the things I want to write all the time but then I get worried that if I do write them, they will be bad. But (I repeat to myself and to you) it doesn't matter if what you're making is brilliant. Being alive isn't always fun but at least it's interesting, might as well document it.
In conclusion: oh what the hell, I'll put a tip jar on this thing. Please external validate me into writing more, dear reader. The next issue will have less navel gazing.