The last year has offered the gift of time to many people who've chosen to use it in different ways. Some have enjoyed the downtime, and others have gotten around to old projects that they had abandoned in the wake of too much work or too many responsibilities. I've done a little of both.
One of the frenzies at the beginning of the pandemic was home repair. I remember reading that Home Depot was running out of certain supplies for awhile, and I witnessed a line out the door when I made a trip there myself. We own a two-bedroom condo, so there isn't much to do in the way of fixing roofs or painting the exterior, but we have a lot of instruments (somewhere around 6 guitars, two basses, a grand piano, a Wurlitzer, a ukulele, three keyboards, a cajon and a ton of other aux percussion...) and a lot of books. That being said, our home projects have involved a lot more organization, the hanging of our art collection, and a few small purchases to brighten up our work/home/play space.
I'm most pleased with our bedroom. It's about the size of our living room (for some reason) and half of the space previously sat unused. Now it's our teaching and streaming studio, sporting a beautiful chest, a wildly colorful rug, sound equipment, a desk, that new bookshelf I shared the other day, and a room divider. It is extremely "extra" but it makes me happy.
As my home has morphed, so have I. I read a few articles on how chronic stress actually changed the DNA of lab rats. It's something regarding telomeres and the breaking of the molecular composition of the strands, so rather than trying to explain it just read what this researcher says. She will actually make it make sense.
John and I went on a walk at the beginning of the lockdowns, and I remember telling him, "We are going to be different people on the other side of this pandemic, and of course, he agreed. I went on to tell him how chronic stress doesn't only create a mental shift, but a physical one as well. I know this from my PTSD diagnosis and therapy (including EMDR; perhaps more on this another time). I also know it from life experience. I was a happy kid. I am a generally anxious and skeptical adult, and this is certainly due to the fact that I had periods of chronic trauma, and incidents of single episode trauma. (Single episode trauma, as I see it, and to avoid any trigger words would be like getting in a car accident. In my case, my car was my body.) With every frightening and life-altering incident, my brain adapted to be on high alert to prevent those things from happening again. I call this "kicked puppy syndrome." When a dog is young, if you hit it, it will cower from you well into adulthood, even if it's transferred to a happy home. I know this because my childhood dog, Milo, had a very gentle and loving upbringing in the Kaczor household, but never let us pet him without bowing away. That's how we knew he was abused before we got him.
Alright, enough example-specific heavy talk! But I'm bringing all of these things up to say that I have seen how the pandemic has changed me. I'm more withdrawn. I am afraid of getting phone calls. I don't really like to go places. I've seen my friends change, too. I learned that some people I really love are extremely selfish, demanding, or that they lack empathy. I've seen others soften and make more space for empathy. Maybe they were always that. Maybe it's been a coal-to-diamond pressure level of a year.
Just like my home, I'm a little different now. I have a few more mental paintings hung, a few more accessories in my frontal lobe via the time to read and create. And maybe some parts of me went to the local resale shop as a donation. I feel stripped down and vulnerable, like I'm finally getting to know myself in my 30th year. I think I like the updated version of me. I'm just worried other people won't. But that'll be a problem for another time. I've got enough on my plate as is, and so do you. The big questions tend to work themselves out.
Thanks for reading. And until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, and stay kind.