Lighten up ’21! By A V Arsic

I received your holiday letter and yes, I can relate to your experiences last year although I didn’t think the elaborately decorated porch lights and dazzling sunset was impersonal. I, too, listen to jazz on my porch, though to me this is not quite the novelty.

After having lived at your “lovely refuge” for thirty-years you’ve earned the view and, of course, I can relate to your watching the comings and goings of three pandemic seasons (the buds that bloom and turn green, then into an array of autumnal colors that gracefully grow into a barren winter) but for me, it’s been twenty-one. Sorry you missed the rest, but I should warn you that comes with your diseased and discarded trees, and overgrown brush.

“Isolate with family” is not a category that befits my lifestyle, so I’ve put myself under “solitary confinement” with my two canine companions, Mack and Megan. I can relate to Dan doing nothing but tossing the ball for Sport to fetch, but over here, Mack’s blindness has him running into furniture, stumbling over things, and taking a flying leap out the door into a nosedive. “It’s all muscle memory Mack, one-two-three – that’s it.”

Otherwise, they continue to maintain, despite Mack’s pulmonary hypertension and bronchitis and Megan’s occasional pancreatitis and hepatitis flare-ups. We are keeping the curbside vets busy though! Yes, coffee breaks do help break up the monotony as well as keeping that rigid schedule of snacks you mentioned – not for me though but for Mack’s and Megan’s daily five sets of pills.

I’m glad you were able to have friends over, socially distanced. Sorry to hear your daughter and her friend caught the virus but very happy to hear she has recovered. Ah, the wonders of technology. Good thing, you were able to ‘reach out from your armchairs’ to other friends and family. I, too, have discovered the wonderful use of Zoom, but none have been with friends or family. They are either not using this new technology or they are busy – maybe zooming with you. Mine have been enlightening meetings and conversations with my three post-concussion support groups, weekly therapist, and other telehealth specialists, and I took two online writing classes both taught by clinical psychologists!

I managed to stay out of the hospital after April when, having been admitted for kidney issues, I was put in the Covid Ward under quarantine for thirty-six hours but fortunately tested negative.

It’s true, the variety of birds one sees does boost one’s sense of tranquility. Our morning walk is met with bird sightings and chatter. A pair of Coopers Hawks nest at the end of our long driveway and is a favorite. The distinct calls they make go as follows: the crow calls ‘awk awk,’ like hawk but minus the ‘h’ so it’s confusing; the raven cries ‘conk conk;’ the hawk has a piercing ‘pew pew pew’ like the noise you make when fake shooting a pistol but with a lovely lingering effect; and the mockingbird is just annoying. I do urge those of you in ‘isolation with others’ to practice these calls at home. It promises to make a great game and beats Solitaire. Having taken up watching how-to YouTube videos, I’ve learned to draw and paint with pastels as well as give myself that luxurious luscious-looking layered haircut.

The deceased family photo album scanning is great too, although I didn’t have to cram all of it into mere months. It’s taken seven years. Something must fill the time. Until we never see each other again.

A.V. Arsic is an award-winning magazine publisher and editor. She received a short story Honorable Mention and was Longlisted for Glimmer Train. A.V. Arsic has been published in Virtual Zine and Reflex Fiction and is an alumna of Curtis Brown Creative.