Words + Image by Meghan Powell
Every Saturday morning, my partner, Mark, and I have a routine. First, we have a little sleep in, savoring the extra morning moments we so rarely get. Then, we go to the bakery by our house for an almond croissant and cappuccino, before the morning rush of customers fill the tables and spill onto the street. Their conversations and laughter can be heard blocks away.
Afterwards, we walk down to the beach for a quick swim and the sun’s warm embrace. Barefoot and sandy, we make our way back home, excited for our weekend together. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together throughout the week. But Saturdays? That’s our time – an almond croissant and the beach.
But last week, there was a shift. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the bakery installed glass barriers running along the displays to separate the customers and the workers. A much needed safety measure, but one that left us feeling oddly unsettled. A few days later, the tables and seats were taken away. The upbeat energy of the neighborhood hang out spot dampened by fear and risk of spreading the virus.
Up until yesterday, I’ve been taking the COVID-19 pandemic fairly well. Social distancing, self-isolating, and washing my hands so much that they are cracked. I’ve tried to stay rational and not to feed into the anxiety that now feels almost constant. I’m trying to enjoy the present moment, if you will. That’s not to say I haven’t been feeling all sorts of emotions. I have. I’ve just been able to keep them pretty much under control.
And then Mark received the devastating news: he was being laid off. Effective immediately.
We suspected it would happen. Everywhere, places have been shutting down and jobs have been cut. So we aren’t the only ones facing this unfortunate reality right now.
Trying to look on the bright side, I said, “Well now we can share an almond croissant EVERY morning together!” Yet as soon as I said it, I realized – No, we can’t. Of course, we can’t. Not only can we not really afford this ever-so-small luxury now, we also must continue to limit our contact with others. You see, we have elderly landlords who live in close proximity to think about. Isolating is as much for them as us.
Our Saturday mornings. The bakery. Our financial stability. My studies I am supposed to be doing now. My visit home with my parents. Mark going back to school so he can start his own business. All of it – gone.
I said to Mark: I just want things to go back to normal. I want to go get an almond croissant. I want our life back. Our life that we had been planning.
And that’s when I felt the anger …
I don’t really do anger. I mean, I have so much to be grateful for. But all of a sudden, I felt this rage uncoil and rise up inside me like a provoked snake. I wanted to scream. I felt angry towards those who aren’t taking responsibility for their actions within the community. And at a virus which I can’t even see but has caused so much destruction. A fury was boiling and bubbling up inside me, like a pressure cooker needing to release steam.
I had no idea what to do with this feeling, so I just sat there. I sat staring blankly at the computer as we looked up government help with unemployment. Soon my anger turned into a profound and overwhelming sense of sadness. It was grief. Grief over what’s happening in the world, the upheaval of our future, and perhaps most of all – my Saturday morning almond croissant.
Yet I knew it wasn’t just a croissant I was grieving – it was hope. I was losing hope.
You know the feeling I’m talking about, right? The metaphorical rug has been pulled out from under our feet, leaving us suspended in air. Our grounding is gone, as is our control. And just the sheer uncertainty of it all is scary and maddening and sad all at once.
Sensing my despair, Mark pulls me close. “We will be alright. We’ll get through this – together,” he said. He reminds me, we have each other. That the sun will still rise and like always, we will greet her by the ocean – together.
This is everything. And I believe him. Because I believe in us. Like ALL of us.
You see, though the weight of the world rests heavy on our shoulders, none of us need carry alone. We have each other. A love that is stronger and mightier that any virus. And in love I find the hope I was missing. Hope in the kindness of humankind. And hope in the love that will long outlive this virus.
So if you are having your own almond croissant moment, please know: you’re not alone. Though the world seems dark, we have each other. And in each other, we will always have hope.