I have been woman / for a long time

beware my smile

There are boxes—mostly of books, to the surprise of absolutely no one who knows me—piled precariously in every room of my current apartment. This is the Desperate Panic, Eh We Don’t Need This Give It All Away stage of moving.

I am donating a dozen or so outfits to my local Dress For Success. I am making difficult decisions about exactly how many travel-sized bottles of shampoo a person really needs.

This is a very stressful time to be a person with compromised lungs who spends a lot of time on airplanes and who is also moving to a city which just cancelled its biggest annual event due to concerns about the coronavirus.

People are hurting and people are going to hurt and people are going to die. And that can feel, does feel, overwhelming and sad.

In the midst of this upheaval there’s a vase of flowers on the kitchen table, a gift from a friend and former colleague. The sight of those flowers brings me great joy, because they remind me of my friend, and because they remind me of why I’m moving (again), they remind me that the world can still be beautiful.

We can show up for each other, check on each other, decline to panic-buy more than we need or decide to donate some of that panic-buying to food banks. We can aggressively tip service workers and be kind to the folks on the front-lines. We can remember that most of us who have the time and resources on a Sunday to be engaging in the Newsletter Economy are already better off than very many people in our communities, and we can take meaningful steps to address that disparity.

Viruses do not discriminate, but people do. Structures do. Systems do. We need all of us thinking about all of us. And then doing the undoing.

Attribution:

I have been woman
for a long time
beware my smile
I am treacherous with old magic   
and the noon's new fury
with all your wide futures   
promised
I am
woman
and not white.
— from A Woman Speaks by Audre Lorde