a dinner with hunter, spike and sylvia: getting grateful in isolation

Pass the whiskey and a beer would you, ol’ gertie. I like to double fist it.

Hunter mumbles through thin lips that straddle his cigarette. I happily oblige, taking a cold beer for myself. I want to keep up with him, chugging my beer at a soon-to-be regrettable pace.

Spike sits on the sofa, soapboxing to Sylvia. He swindles her smiles with wartime stories of beer-soaked breasts. He wryly asks her to pop her head in the oven to check on the roast. Sylvia finds the tall Englishman a dish. She plans to dissect him later with diaristic precision. She finds the smoke billowing, beer swilling Hunter an intrigue. She promises to drop him a letter every now and again. Before leaving, she complements Hank on his pan-fried mushrooms, glazed in dark places.

Ozzy hides in the cupboard, waiting for them all to leave.

Sigh. This COVID-19 world has created an interesting by-product in my brain. Hunter S. ThompsonSpike Milligan. Sylvia Plath. What do these greats have in common? Well, they are all invited to my fictitious dinner party of course.

Earlier this week, I gussied myself up with red lipstick just to go out for my not-so-daily, daily walk. Although Sylvia would have approved of my red pout, she didn’t join me on my sojourn through the backstreets of suburbia. Neither did Spike, nor Hunter. All three are long gone, survived by a legacy of luscious words: recited, and studied by those of us willing to try.

My words fall short…but I’m trying.

Like most of the Western world, I am interned at home. But I’m not finding it a bad thing. Mostly. Sure, I’ve noticed that Hank enjoys balling his dental floss and then leaving it on the bathroom sink. Why does he do this? I don’t know.

But besides that, I am learning so many positive things during this time of home isolation. To me it feels like a time of transition: an in-between. Buddhists call it Bardo. And it is at this time that we can learn the most about ourselves.

My poor plants. I’m coming for you girls! Photo by Gertie P.

A part of my daily ritual includes nurturing two indoor plants. They sit aloft and alone on kitchen cabinets, far out of reach of the nourishing sun. Each day, I climb two steps up a ladder and remove the first plant and place it on the kitchen bench. There it feasts on the sun’s rays. I move the ladder over, climb back up the same two steps and remove the second plant to place it in the sun. In the evening I repeat the steps in reverse. Get the ladder. Place the ladder. Up two steps. Down two steps. Extract a plant. Collect a plant. Repeat tomorrow. I guess I enjoy my indoor plants and to me, the ritual is worth it. Their fleshy leaves cleanse my air and beautify my home. Making this space tranquil seems important right now.

I’ve learned I like to clean to self soothe. It’s a ritual that releases my mind from whatever self-made drama has it in a chokehold. I used to loathe chores. Vacuum, scrub, soak – was that the sum of my life I would wonder? Now, those things allow me to enjoy the space I occupy for twenty-three hours a day (is this Stockholm Syndrome?)

I’ve learned that a slower life is an amazing life. I have no idea how I will go back to big city living: zipping from work to gym to study to sleep in an inextricable whirl of weary. Back then, my excuses were long and my free time to write was anaemic. Now I have oodles of time. Buckets of oodles even. I may not write oodles but hey, this is a start (look at me ma! I’m writing).

I am also grateful for the not-so-little, little things: fresh, running water in my home is one (how did she go from writing to running water?) Every time I turn the tap on, I think, wow – I am lucky. In times of elusive toilet paper supplies, remember that flushing fresh drinking water is a precious commodity some communities can’t afford.

Ok, by now Hunter would be snorting the cornflour to improve the mood. This isn’t a lecture. It’s more a point to make you think. What is the best way to use this extra time and space you’ve been given in this COVID-19 world? How will you use it to learn and grow? Are you reading more? Writing more? Connecting with family and neighbours in a way you weren’t six months ago?

If you’re short on answers, find a sunny spot and have a nice cold beer.

That’s where I’ll be, whipping out the Ouija to face-board some old friends.

FEATURED IMAGE: Made by Gertie P using Canva

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