Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Well, look who's a social butterfly!

I spent all day Tuesday socializing. It was fun and heartening, but exhausting.

First I left a message for Henry. Tuesday was his birthday. I got his voicemail because he was talking to his family in Puerto Rico. His older brother moved back home to take care of mom -- she's over 80 now and is having cognitive issues -- so I'm glad he got to connect with them.

I heard from Darius! He's the prison penpal I was matched with through my church. I wrote him two letters in October that went unanswered and, frankly, I was afraid he was dead. I know that Covid is a major problem among the incarcerated. I sent an inquiry about him to our church/prison coordinator, but before I heard back, I got his letter. 

It was short and sad. Darius has had the blues because of prison covid protocol. They keep moving prisoners from one area to another, trying to contain the virus and keep the prisoners safe. This constant disruption has been hard on Darius, especially because it means that his time outside in the yard has been cut to 60 minutes every 30 days. Also, Christmas is a depressing time for him. He didn't elaborate on why, and I didn't ask. I did answer his letter today, letting him know that I've been concerned about his well being and that I'm happy he's OK. That's the point of this correspondence -- to let him know that someone out here cares. I know he won't get my letter in time for Christmas, but there's time for it to get there for the New Year. I reminded him of what's said during our church service: "We light this chalice to remember that life is born again every day." New day, new year, new President, new vaccines, new opportunities to be healthy and to make the most of each new day.

A nice long check-in with John.
He worries about me because of covid. I worry about him because he gets the blues. He really misses the neighborhood bar where he's been spending his afternoons since he lost his job in September 2019. The other regulars have become his ballast, now that he doesn't have an office to go to. This second covid lockdown is harder on him than the first because it takes place over the holidays. So it was good for us to reconnect. I wish we did it more often because it benefits both of us. But he doesn't really like talking on the phone, despises social media and won't even try Zoom. It's funny to me that he's become such a crusty old man. When we first met, back in the 1980s, John was already bored by new things before I'd even heard of them! Now he's a Luddite.

"Gal, give me a quick call." So said the email from my new boss, Aaron. He apologized for "bothering" me while enjoying a day off, but he wanted me to know something before our next paychecks are automatically deposited: he requested and got me a raise. He said it was to thank me for all my help since he joined the team! He took the initiative to get me this raise, I didn't ask for it. That he thinks so highly of me means the world to me! That he used his influence to get me a raise this year, when we had lay-offs in the second quarter, left me gobsmacked.

Movie group. We discussed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Our last meetup before Christmas.

Joanna. When I got my covid diagnosis, I was frozen with fear and reached out to Joanna. She's so sane. She heard Monday that her brother finally died. He's been battling cancer and has been in assisted living since an auto accident complicated his care. He contracted covid and was just so miserable that his death, while sad,  feels like a blessing. Anyway, Tuesday night, when the weight of her loss began to overwhelm her, Joanna reached out to me. I was happy I could be there for her, to distract her and even make her laugh for a moment.

All this companionship did wear me out. I did little on Wednesday and the day of nothing zipped by.

"I will honor Christmas in my heart"

So Scrooge promised. I woke up Wednesday and vowed to do the same. I'm not having much in the way of celebration with others this year, so I've got to make like Scrooge manufacture my own Christmas spirit.

I put on carols and taped my cards to the door. It's not a lot -- most of my decorations are still in the closet in the den -- and didn't take me long, but it cheered me up enormously.