GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
I know I’ve been MIA.
Although to be MIA would mean there was actually some kind of action going on.
Unless of course you are one of those giving your finger to the God’s of Corona and wandering around maskless and doing whatever may or may not be open in your community.
I really wish I had something to say. I wish I had something profound to share.
Like most of you my days are spent in a kind of foggy sameness; working out on Zoom- doing things at my desk, an occasional online Memorial.
It’s Memorial Day, and of course like most days I am at home.
Is anyone getting used to this? I would love to hear.
Part of me thinks I may come out on the other side an agoraphobic.
I’m in introvert/extrovert, to begin with.
That hybrid, crossbreed combo of either craving attention or hiding in the corner.
The corner is starting to feel better than attention. I now like no makeup. Short colorless nails. Pants without zippers or buttons. Not waking up and having to come up with twenty ways to try and impress the world.
TMI – who stopped wearing underwear with their sweats?
It just shows one can get used to most things.
I’ve gotten used to working out online.
A shout out to Lis Halfpapp and Fred DeVito whose Barre classes were the morning foundation of my days for seventeen years.
Now they have blessedly taken their classes online and thanks to Zoom I still workout with many of the people who were familiar to me only through that daily experience.
I think there are good things that have come out of this hideous situation.
I talk to my friends more. I really talk to them. Actual words come out of our mouths and into the air.
I had a forty-minute conversation on the phone with my literary agent Eric Simonoff the other day. And we just talked about life. Very little business. It was hello, how are you? How are you holding up and then just life stuff. Things we had not discussed in ages.
I know I have made the effort to reach out and talk to people.
I have a core crew I check in with if not every day, then every other day. And they check in with me. And you know who you are. Then I have a group of friends I have just randomly checked in with throughout this ordeal. And they have done the same with me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that if someone has not reached out to you or you to them in the last three months, the friendship needs to be reevaluated. It’s likely not worth much.
I have people to whom I have not spoken to in years – who reached out to mend some broken fences. Shout out to Larry Enzer!
I have people who out of nowhere have checked in and I have done the same. Oddly, most of them are the people I have known the longest.
Silence and stillness are not bad things. The closing down of the world is unprecedented and horrible.
Though we have found ways of engaging, mourning, caring and being together. But it takes effort and making an effort to be in touch with people is something we had lost in many ways.
We thought liking someone’s photoshopped life image on Instagram was a relationship. We learned it’s not. And that there is no way to photoshop this experience though people have tried. I find it reprehensible.
Trying is picking up the phone and Face Timing – shout out to Sheldon Bull, Bruce Roberts, Paul Williams.
Friendships are not measured by showing up when people are doing well and at the peak of their game.
Friendship is being there when people have been benched or are down on their luck.
I learned this in the year and a half preceding the pandemic.
I went into a depression; I flew so far under the radar I couldn’t find myself. And in that period, I know who was there for me. And I really know who wasn’t.
People don’t like people who are depressed or suddenly not playing their A-game. They forget them very quickly.
And there is a stigma to depression as we all know.
I did not intend this to be about depression, as at the moment I am not depressed. I am confused, I am grappling, I’m sad. I’m worried. But I’m not the burst into tears, not leaving the house person I was in 2019.
Though many are depressed and will remain so even after this is over.
Most people have a hard time owning their depression. They don’t want to be judged or thought of less than their perfect selves. I resisted sharing those feelings with many people.
Several of the people I did share with were really horrible about it. And so, after a while I stopped sharing and just pretended or stayed out of sight.
There was a lunch with the female writer reached out to who I had witnessed go through the same thing when her kids left, her career slid a bit down and she was suddenly dislodged from many of the things that gave her life meaning.
When I broached the subject at said lunch, she denied that it ever took place. Her life had always been splendid. I knew for a fact nothing was further from the truth.
I have never spoken to her since.
There was the once high-powered New York female executive who was no longer on top. I asked her if she felt people were no longer as kind or interested in her when she was not in the position of doing things for them.
She said, “Oh, no, quite the opposite. I have great friends and they adore me more now.”
At which point a woman walked up to us and she took this woman by the arm and announced, “in fact, we have a private club and you can’t join.”
This woman was in her eighth decade, not the tenth grade, when she said this.
There was also the perpetually perky socialite who I asked to help teach me how to be a better girlfriend as I felt those were skills I let slide in the last two decades. I had devoted myself to my family and my career, allowing my female friendships to whither in many cases.
She told me she would totally help me and introduce me to her squad.
Of course, when I reached out – with many texts, “let’s make a lunch date.” I never heard back.
What is my point?
You have few real friends when you are on top, at least in big transactional cities like New York and LA. You have a lot of people who want to be around you. But eighty percent of the time it’s not for the right reasons.
Many are going to come out of the other side of this not where they started. Many will have lost their jobs, their offices, their expense accounts, their access to power. Many will come out needing to find new ways to be in the world.
Many already have.
And for those of you for whom this is true, you will learn who your friends are.
Like me, you have likely learned who many of your friends are since the world shut down.
Your friends are the people who in the darkness, take their flashlight and shine it your way to make sure you are OK.
I hope, I sincerely hope we all remember the lessons we have learned and are learning in these most trying and heartbreaking of times.
We have learned – or I have learned we don’t need nearly as much stimulation as we think. We need some. But many I know have learned that a calmer, greener life in the country is more nourishing than the fast-paced, competitive, who’s on first life of the big cities.
We have hopefully learned to really give back to others in any way we can.
If we’ve paid attention, we have learned who are real friends are and who the faux friends were, and we will not waste time on those who do not deserve our time.
We have learned the value of personal freedom and how priceless just being able to go out and do the simplest of things really is.
OMG, we have learned the value of hugs and closeness and looking someone in the eye, taking their arm. Holding them when they/we suffer loss.
The healing powers of mourning together, not in little boxes like the Brady Bunch.
And hopefully, we have learned to be selfless and protect others at the risk of our own comfort. That not wearing a mask is not a sign of personal freedom, it’s the sign of being an asshole.
And we’ve learned that if we are lucky enough to still be able to feed our families it’s our job to help feed all those millions and millions of families who cannot feed themselves.
We need to learn these things and we need to remember them because we are not going to wake up one day soon with this suddenly over.
It may be with us forever. It may be with us a long time. It may take a few years. For many, the memory will cause PTSD that could last a lifetime.
It’s certainly here until we get a vaccine. And we need to take care of ourselves, our planet and those less fortunate and we need to be really good friends to those we love and those who love us. Even if it’s from six feet or six hundred miles.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend.
Call someone you care about. And call someone who is suffering a loss of some sort. It will mean the world to them and to you.