For most of 2020, I did not have my usual carefree Friday. Some fell to the stretch of time in the early pandemic when the logistics of a clumsy work-week took part of the day. Others yielded to the planning of the summer’s Sunday Market. For two months, I worked Fridays to bank hours for the ultimately failed Thanksgiving trip to Missouri.
Today I found myself with an entire day of unallocated time. Over coffee, I scrolled through social media, searching for news of my friend whose household succumbed to the coronavirus. I studied my cup for a few minutes, with its graceful clay contours. Then I asked myself: Why don’t you just call?
Katrina’s cheerful voice shimmied through the wire. She might have been on the other side of my old kitchen table, the twittering of Brookside robins outside the window. I could nearly see the tip of the Japanese maple peaking over the sill. She told me who had been negative and who had been positive, and the state of symptoms. We talked of her daughter’s pregnancy, the death of a close friend, and her plan to resume her copious hours of volunteer work as soon as she gets vaccinated. When the call ended, I could have cried; it felt, for just a few minutes, like going home.
After a few hollow moments, I showered, dressed, and threw myself into a spate of work. Then I shook my head, barreled out the door, and pulled my car onto the loop. Around the bend of Brannan Island Road, a heavy freighter made her ponderous way east to Stockton. I caught her in backlit relief, and then marveled at the sight of her in my side view mirror. On the way home, I strained my lens toward a distant red-tailed hawk. It lifted from the fragile winter branch one second before the click of my shutter.
Back at the park, I found the water off. An hour later, not to be outdone, the power failed. In my silent, cold house, I’ve read by flashlight, eaten pasta, and wrapped myself in wool. Eventually, still in silence, I will lay down to rest.
It’s the eighth day of the eighty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.