If you are anything like me, you have a list of things that you must get done even with stay at home orders and global pandemics. My list generally focuses on work tasks (lesson planning and posting along with grading, connecting with students, etc.) and household chores (grocery lists, cleaning, laundry and more). If and when I get through those, which is rare, then I try to find some time to work on campaign related organizing as well as relaxing. Yes, you read that correctly. I have been trying to find time to relax. Initially, it was not much of a choice as I needed to implement some strategies to minimize anxiety. As I have gotten the anxiety under control, I have found that I don’t really want to give up this me time. I don’t really have a pattern. Sometimes, I read or work on a puzzle that a friend gave me for Christmas. Other times, I color or journal. Some nights, it is just about having a glass of wine and watching something silly on TV.
This week, though, after doing some journaling, I let my mind wander. What did I really want to do? Somehow, this led me to watch some of the videos that I have recorded over the years while on tour. I watched, for example, a video that Rhonda and I did in the summer of 2017 in which we summarized some of our not-so-finer moments from the Paper Gods Tour. I laughed and laughed as I watched us get into hysterics over cows and backwards wording merchandise. Next, I checked out some clips we had recorded while driving in the summer of 2012 in the southeast. At some of those, I found myself cringing a bit at how critical we were. (That said, I don’t think I could ever really say fond things about that seventeen minute film that they started the shows off with. So sorry!) After that, I watched a couple of clips from the UK trips from 2011 and felt the rush of sadness over the cancelled shows to the sheer joy of meeting friends in a pub in Birmingham. One memory led to another and another and another.
Soon, I found myself watching live clips. Many of these were from shows that we had attended over the years. I found myself grinning and singing along just like I was there in the audience. As soon as I realized this, I wondered why I hadn’t done more of this during this quarantine experience. This connected with ideas that I had journaled about. Fandom has been a big part of my existence with the usual ebbs and flows. Outside of politics and teaching, it has been the cause of some of my most heartbreaking moments, some small, some not-so-small. In thinking about some of those, I recognized that I hadn’t really grieved some of them and wondered if acknowledging that could be beneficial. That said, in watching those videos, both my own collection as well as clips on YouTube, I knew that fandom has also provided me with some of the truly most joyous, most fun times that I have ever experienced. I am pretty certain that there are lots of people out there who have not had nearly as much fun as I have while on tour. As I sit in my living room on the couch that I live on nowadays, I know that I would give anything to be able to have a show, a tour to look forward to.
I know that life does not always work out like you want it to. Heck, if that was not the case, I would just will away this virus that is causing so much harm. Yet, as I think about the time I have taken this week to just think and feel, there is a part of me appreciates that it has created the time and space to do that. Too often, under normal times, I literally have no time to do any of that as 60-80 hour weeks are not unheard of in my world. I cannot watch videos. I cannot bask in the warm fuzzies of fabulous memories. No, I’m too busy working. While I desperately want things to return to normal, there are some things that I could do without and the lack of time is certainly one. No, instead, I want to be able to break open the memories and just feel, just remember, just be.