By PEGGY CHAMBERS
Aspen Ridge Lodge
Dear Family and Friends:
I’m sorry I’m late. My heart has not been in this. It isn’t that I’m not thinking of you, because I am. So many of you have sent cards and pictures. There’s a stack of envelopes to the right of my keyboard and a basket full of your lovely cards next to that. From the first to the last, they have brightened my days, and I thank you.
It’s just that this past year has just been so grim and dismal. I watch the news and wonder what can happen next. I’ve just wanted it over with. Well, now at last it is. Happy New Year!
I started another letter. It was much more cheerful, but in view of everything, it sounded flippant, inappropriate. Is there a happy medium between flippant and depressing? I’m hoping that next year is filled with good things. Like peace, justice, respect, truth.
Like vaccines that beat Covid-19 all to hell. Like things getting back to normal, places opening up again, and people going back to work. Like being able to go out unmasked and just smile and say hi to perfect strangers and not feel you have to protect yourself from them and protect them from you.
Years ago a fellow teacher, a guy in the history department, maintained there would not be world peace until all the world had a common enemy that would pull us all together to fight a singular battle.
Well, now we have a common enemy, but I don’t see the peoples of the world joining forces against the Coronavirus. There is still and forever bitter divisiveness both internationally and here within our own country.
I don’t know where we’re going. You can tell I’ve gotten a little stir-crazy. We’ve been quarantined here since the middle of March, Friday the 13th to be exact. Fortunately there’s a courtyard just across from my room that we’re allowed to go out into. It’s my life saver. If we go off premises, though, as I did to have a tooth pulled in August, we have to be confined to our room for 14 days. There are currently two new residents whom we haven’t met because of the 14 days requirement. But we’re all healthy. We’re all safe. And grateful.
At the moment I have a big hole in my kitchen ceiling where a new piece of equipment is going up because I don’t have any heat.
Well, yes I do. Thanks to two space heaters, I am toasty warm. A heat & AC guy came to do the job on Tuesday, and I was moved out for the day. But then he needed something, so he came back Wednesday. Then his lift was too big and wouldn’t fit in my little kitchen. (I knew that.) So now he has to come back next week, and we’ll see how that goes.
One good development is that I’ve begun listening to audible books while I eat to compensate for lack of social contact as we no longer dine in the dining room. I’ve enjoyed a number of good books from Homer’s Odyssey to J.D. Vance’s The Hillbilly Elegy, Red Sky in the Morning by Paul Lynch, the Obamas’ memoirs, Dickens’ Christmas Carol. And lots more.
I’m currently into The Poets Corner, an anthology of favorite poetry and commentary assembled by actor John Lithgow, who grew up in a poetry-loving family and became a lover of poetry himself. Organized alphabetically by last names, the poems make for a random ride through time and form and subject matter. It’s a wild trip through a literary fun house.
I’ve also learned to use Skype and Facebook chats and Zoom, so have been able to visit with many of you in person, sort of. I get to see my grandchildren! Three of them have driver’s permits now, and the youngest is in 2nd grade. They’re all doing school online.
I have a young friend who’s a first year teacher here in Los Alamos. She’s teaching 5th grade online. What a way to get started!
I miss being able to go uptown to the movies, or to see what’s going on at the Arts Center, or at the library. Or going to the grocery store or anywhere. Even the doctor or the dentist. I miss the canyon trail out back. I miss really hot water (not the result of the C virus) and hot meals on real (not Styrofoam) dishes. I miss the crazy humor of a friend who moved out because he couldn’t go out, so now he’s gone. I miss smiles and greeting strangers. I miss hugs.
Okay, Peggy, it’s time to put an end to this pity party. You are not hungry or homeless. You don’t live inconstant terror. A good kick in the butt is what you need. You are lucky. Blessed. You will persevere!
On that note, I’m going to leave you. I wish you well in this new year. I wish all of us well in this new year – the whole world. I could say it can only get better, but you know what happens when you say that.
So I’ll leave you, instead, with a favorite quote from Emily Dickinson:
“Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul/ and sings the tune without the words/ and never stops at all.” Plus a little faith.
Much love and hugs all around, ~Peggy