Somewhere in Japan

Dispatch № 37: Preoccupied and Waiting

When you take on a project like this after years of barely writing in general, let alone in public, it’s tricky.

I think I’ve already published more words in 2021 than in at least the last five years combined. And it’s good. It’s really good. Creatively, the fitness is coming back.

But it’s also really hard. I’m publishing this post, and I’m publishing it early, not exactly in spite of the fact that I’m exhausted and pissed off, but in specific defiance of those things. Giving up and letting it slide would be easier, but it would also be the wrong move.

I’ve spent most of this week freaked out and catastrophizing and everything else, because after more than a year of not seeing one of my favorite people, we got together. Mostly outside, mostly just walking around in the freely circulating air, masks on, but we also stopped briefly to eat.

Yes, to eat. Together.

Eating. That thing at the center of human life? The thing that gives us words like companion, which means literally someone with whom you share your bread, from the Latin com, meaning with, and pan, from panis, referring to bread1.

I’m not the most social of people. Social distancing in general hasn’t been hard, but even weird loners like me have their limits, and I wanted to see my friend, and so I did.

And she shortly thereafter tested positive for COVID-19.

Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably judging. Not wondering if she’s OK (she is, thankfully), but judging the two of us for getting together in the midst of a plague for something as frivolous as seeing a friend that’s well within reach by digital means.

It’s OK if you are, because that’s the first instinct of most of us right now, regardless of your position on anything.

The last few days have been all about stressing out and waiting for the absurdly slow results of PCR tests, and at the same time worrying about the opinions of strangers on the internet because I dared to see a friend, one of the very few true friends I have in this part of the world, and only briefly, after a year plus of separation.

I’m fine, thankfully. A negative test yesterday and a second test scheduled on Friday to minimize lost work, because even though I tested negative, the company still has to decide how many weeks I have to stay home.

I am stressed and frustrated by everything tonight, but perhaps more than everything else, frustrated by the apparent tendency of the public to see anyone who’s been exposed to COVID-19 as being an asshole or an idiot upon whom the continued presence of the plague must clearly rest, and I’m not down with that shit.

Yes, people make stupid choice. People aren’t careful. People believe in things that aren’t true all the time, too, and it has consequences. But sometimes people also want to just see a dear friend after a long absence, acting with reasonable precaution, and shit just happens anyway.

In the last 36 hours, I’ve checked my email more times than at any other time I can remember. I’ve also been worried about everything and everyone, and in ways that, as a person already struggling with severe depression and anxiety, I really don’t find helpful.

I’ve also seen, exhibited in others, a coldness and a rush to the assumption of wrongdoing that I find somewhat chilling.

Lots of glass houses these days. An abundance of stones, to boot.

  1. The Japanese word “pan” means bread and comes from the Portugueses word of the same root ↩︎

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Picture of David R Munson

David R Munson

Photographer, essayist, wanderer, weirdo. Everything is interesting if you give it an honest chance to be.

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