Of course, because it's Saturday morning and no one has anywhere to go, I have needlessly woken at 5 a.m. So here I sit, in my usual corner, drinking black coffee and listening to the furnace and feeling slightly groggy. Upstairs is the realm of sleeping men. Downstairs the cat skitters back and forth around corners and pretends to stick his claws into electrical outlets. He's hoping I'll chase him. Five a.m. is one of his very favorite times of the day, and he wants us to enjoy it together.
This weekend I'd like to do some more sewing, and I definitely need to dust and grocery-shop, and I should glance at the various class plans I'm juggling, and read a few more Millay poems before my poetry-talk session with Teresa, and sort through my manuscript for the publisher, and order flower seeds, and go for a long walk, and pump up my bike tires, and and and. But for the moment, sitting idly on this couch feels like the best idea in the world.
My parents got their second vaccine doses yesterday. One of my best friends got her first dose earlier this week. The darkness of the pandemic is finally, slowly, barely beginning to lift. Tom and I may be able to get our shots next month, but now that Maine has shifted to an age-based order instead of an essential-worker order, Paul is last on the list. So as a family we will still be in hiding well into the summer.
We haven't laid eyes on our parents and sisters for more than a year, haven't seen our older son James since last July. Paul has spent a year sleeping on a cot mattress on the floor of my study. I've spent a year as a hobo in my own house: shifting from room to room in search of a place to write or teach or set up a sewing machine or talk on the phone or find five minutes of silence. Tom has spent a year renovating the vast summer homes of the impossibly wealthy. The weirdness accumulates. And yet we've stayed close, all of us: with distant lonely parents; with James in Chicago, who's dealing with the bizarre exigencies of filming a major TV show during a pandemic; among our threesome here at the Alcott House. Playing games, anthropomorphizing the cat, listening to baseball, enjoying our meals.
Now, outside, the cardinal is singing his spring melody, even though the thermometer reads 18 degrees and there's nothing springlike about the forecast. I can't call this hope: he's just doing what he has to do. But it does feel like comradeship. Birds and beasts alike, doing our best with what we have to work with.