(noun) forward or onward movement toward a destination.
(verb) move forward or onward in space or time.
When I’m depressed, I prefer the dark, the night. The sun has gone down, the noise of the world quiets a bit. I’m no longer alone. I’m surrounded by the sounds of my kids and husband. The house literally comes alive, filling the space of inertia that characterized my days.
The dark is like a weighted blanket. It anchors me. It calms the panic that has been building up all day, the quiet desperation, the feeling of floating uncontrollably, of not being able to guide the direction of my thoughts and emotions. The dark provides protection.
Most importantly, it also signifies one more day survived. It means that I made it, that I moved moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour and I survived. I’m not scared anymore of doing something that cannot be undone.
Yesterday, however, I woke up and didn’t feel overwhelmed by the light. I felt more grounded than I have in months, not floating. I could feel my feet on the earth, not hovering. I could squish my toes into the carpet next to my bed.
Maybe because my family is home in this time of COVID-19. The energy of the night is now the energy of the day. I’d imagined that this time of isolation was to be a nightmare, with 4 adult-sized people and one kid-sized person in the apartment 24-7, each with our own personalities and predilections, each with our own friends were we can be more of ourselves than in our prescribed home roles of mother and kids, husband and wife, sister and brother. All thrown together not of our choosing but because we have to be. I imagined I’d be waiting for night not only to feel grounded and weighted but to finally have some quiet and peace.
It hasn’t been that nightmare. Yes, we all are different, we all have preferences. We run awkwardly into each other in the kitchen and the living room, and my room is less of a fortress due to children who lack boundaries, who want mommy to be constantly available to ask a question of, to complain about a sibling to, to lament about not having what they want to eat in the pantry to, to show a silly video to, something that they’d know I’d enjoy. But we have also fell into a rhythm of comfort, where we are beginning to move seamlessly as we’ve learned each others typical movements and patterns, where we are better able to read the room. We can feel by instinct when it’s time to come together to play a card game and when it’s time to be apart. We move with each other, not against each other. We have an equilibrium.
In that space, I feel myself welcoming morning. I’m typically opening my eyes to see my husband working at the desk in the bedroom. I hear the little one watching TV with cartoons and silly videos. I hear my oldest son laughing at some video he’s watching where other people play video games, a phenomenon I still don’t quite understand. (But now that I think about it, it’s like watching other people cooking on TV. Not so strange.) My daughter is silent, sleeping in as she is wont to do, knowing I probably have another hour until I hear her too.
I’ve taken to going on long walks by myself, today being the fourth day in a row for that adventure. I’ll admit that my route is getting a little predictable, and to sustain, I’m going to need to find another path before I get too bored. But I rather than moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour, I am measuring the day one foot at a time: one foot, then the next, and repeat. Step step, step step. Moving. Progressing. Moving forward in time, in space.
In this time of crisis and depression and anxiety and panic and terror, where I’m still unable to concentrate on research and writing and allowing myself to be concerned with teaching and being at home only, something that might be little to someone else, one foot, and then the next, is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
I’m making progress. Toward a destination. Of living. Of surviving.