The street is quiet. It is early spring in the desert. The weather is ideal for gatherings. There is no backyard laughter. No raucous children splashing with abandon in the neighbor’s new pool, complete with water slide and pink flamingo floaties. Quiet has always been a place of refuge for me, a cue to settle in and put my busy mind aside. This quiet is unnerving. It is a loud reminder of the isolation we are facing. It is the whisper of illness and death and disconnect. It is my incredibly independent, confident sister sitting at home jobless. It is my mother pressing her hands against the glass of a window to share a moment with her granddaughters as a substitute for morning hugs and coffee on her way to her shift at the hospital.
I step away from my desk, make a cup of tea, and call a friend. Even my voice sounds hollow and distant. My friend tells me to put on some music while I work. She makes a couple of well-timed jokes to ease the heaviness and balance my perspective. My laughter sounds foreign but delightful. She reminds me I am not alone and she sends me a snapshot of her chaotic desk at home, piled with a blending of personal and professional life. A laptop and a stack of papers sit in contrast to a kid’s toy and a dog leash. This is a new normal. A clashing and clanging of realities that my friend has somehow made into a flowing concerto.
I hang up the phone and turn on a playlist of vintage jazz aptly named “together.” I take a deep breath and a mindful sip of tea. I return to work with a lighter heart. As the music plays in the background, my house feels more alive. I am still alone, but no longer lonely.