Recently I came face to face with my own mortality. Sort of. I stared at the two pink lines on that test with a mixture of shock, resignation and disbelief. (NO, relax, it was not “that” kind of test, heaven only knows that system stopped working a loooong time ago.)
Rather, it was that white plastic rectangle that was about to dictate the next two weeks of my life… the Rapid Antigen Test. And yes, it was positive.
I. Had. Covid.
Suddenly, the two years of masking everywhere, wearing gloves when I shopped or got gas, washing my hands eighty-seven thousand times a day, GETTING NEEDLES, BY CHOICE, THREE TIMES – all of it; seemed like a futile farce, because here I was anyway in spite of all that. I might as well have licked the floor in the ICU for all the good all that angst and worry and missing out on people and things, over-protecting myself for two years, did me.
Worse than that, my partner had it too, but he was an hour away. We had joked back last fall about having to quarantine maybe being a good thing because it meant ten days together with nowhere else to be. But no, in this cruel twist of how it went down, we both ended up sequestered in our own homes, alone, for the duration. So, it was me, a dog, an almost empty fridge, four slices of bread and a really empty wine rack. In a town where you can get exactly jack-squat delivered.
For the first few days, I wasn’t “sick”. I worked remotely. Was aggravated with how challenging that can be when you are used to being in your office, free to come and go, get whatever you need, speak to whomever you need to, face-to-face. Didn’t have to ask co-workers to do things for you that you couldn’t because you weren’t physically there.
Then for the few days after that, when I was really truly sick, I couldn’t do that any longer. I was relegated to the bed and couch. Books took too much brain power, crosswords (my fave!) were suddenly too hard. Changing the channel seemed like a chore, and getting up to use the bathroom took half an hour to work up because the fatigue was so bad. But it didn’t last long, thank goodness. I got off easy compared to all the horrid scenarios I’d cooked up in my head since March 2020 thanks to the always-dramatic media.
As I realized that “achievement” was not going to be the byword of my isolation time, I gave up worrying about what I was not doing, and got comfy with the TV. What better time, I thought, to go back and binge Sex And The City from the start? (I’d only ever watched it sporadically over the years). So, I truly got to know Carrie and the girls like my own besties. And learned a few things in the process.
One, you have to let your friends in when shit gets real. Every time Big and Carrie fell apart, she called the girls, and they showed up. With cosmos, food, shopping trips, flowers. Because that is what friends do.
I am abysmally horrible at asking people for help.
I realized however that in my stubbornness I could actually starve to death in a first world country, if I couldn’t get over myself on that. So, I got my Carrie on and reluctantly called my two besties, apologized about 96 times, but asked for some basic groceries. And wine. What I got was two batches of the best chicken soups ever. Organic eggs. Fresh pasta, sauce, and buns. My favourite bread for making toast (the staple for several days along with the soup, because who the eff wants to cook when you have covid??) A box of good wines, even though I only asked for cheap (no, I did NOT drink it all). Flowers. JELLO. Can we talk about Jello?? It is about the happiest food on the planet. And no one was mad that I called them. Thanks, Carrie.
As the days, and the SATC saga both wore on, I thought a lot about relationships. About growth. Yes, I know this show is fiction, but so much of the story was just so damn real. When you watch a long series like that in rapid succession, you really get a feel for how a performer and their character grow and change over the years.
The thing I loved most, was watching all the imperfect things that the girls went through. How Samantha never ever capitulated to what other people thought of her footloose and fancy-free way with sex and that she always looked out for herself as a priority. But in seeming contradiction that she was always there when people needed things, even for those who often ran her down. How Carrie never gave up on romance and knowing what she wanted, even when it meant turning away from something “good”. How Miranda stood up for herself professionally as a single mom but still kept her career moving ahead. How Charlotte, God bless her princess-y white-bread protestant naïveté, eventually got her fairy tale ending, just not in the package she thought it would come in.
I thought a lot about my own journey on those long couchy days of Crave, soup, toast and wine. How it can be OK to be perfectly imperfect like those characters, and do so fashionably no less. They stumbled through good and bad relationships, ones where they were done poorly by… but also ones where they were “the bad guy”. And their friends still stood by them, forgave them their foibles, and they forgave themselves too. And they did all this in amazing shoes and glorious outfits. They ate fries and drank too much champagne.
These, I decided, are my kind of women. Yeah, I am like twenty years late to that party I’m sure, but somehow watching all those seasons at once made me forget the isolation, the fear of what-if-i-get-really-sick-really-fast-and-im-alone, the worry that my dog would lose her mind after days of no walks, or that I might indeed die of loneliness.
And mostly, it made me reflect on who I have been, and how my own life has played out.
I’ve made mistakes that still make me cringe, but my friends still showed up with soup, wine, FLOWERS, love. People called to check on me. I realized that it’s OK to be needy sometimes and let other people help. I realized that the time we put in caring for others in our lives, will always come back to us in our own time of need.
I’ve loved and lost, more times than I thought I could, but I never gave up on what I knew I needed and wanted. And here he came, all sass and beer and hockey bag, looking and acting NOT like all the others, to be more than I could have ever hoped for.
And I still have my own little bevy of shoes. Realized I needed to take them out more often, not just on special days. Wear them to the post office, or the grocery store. To remember what it’s like to love fashion every day as an integral part of living. I’d let that slide these past few years and I realized how much it can lift your whole attitude to get dressed every day, rather than just throwing on the first thing close and reasonably clean and comfy. It is a gift to myself.
Eventually, my covid home bubble burst and I went back to life as it was, thankfully. But I had watched to the last episode of SATC, then both movies, and the new “And Just Like That” series. I bawled at the big stuff and I rejoiced with happy tears at the good parts. I still cannot get over the death of Big. I watched that episode twice and it nearly killed me. I was so mad at the writers. But then, I got to watch Carrie; older, wiser, calmer Carrie, but still Carrie at heart… break, but then move on, thanks to her posse, past a devastating loss, with dignity and grace and hope. And I was inspired. I watched her friends each provide their own unique brand of support to her. I watched them all navigate the crazy changes of their own lives. With style and grace, and still wearing great shoes. Setting the bar for women in their 50s and 60s now instead of 20-somethings.
And I knew, that back in my own world, the courage to do the same would stay with me. So thanks, girls, for that week. Thanks for reminding me to keep drinking champagne. I will remember to celebrate and support the SATC ladies of my own life, who have always stuck with me. And I will hold on tight to my own Harry, make him take his pills and eat right, and never use a Peloton, because I want all the tomorrows we can get.
Cheers, y’all, to all those girls like us, carrying on no matter what, not afraid to fall on our faces, but then get up and keep on going.
I’m a 64 year old aging hippie with a sarcastic tongue and out of control ginger hair. I am passionate in advocating for women “of a certain age”, especially we single ones, because we aren’t quite dead yet, in spite of the fact that we are often largely invisible and made to feel redundant on many levels. I hope to make you think, make you laugh, and mostly, feel like no matter where you are in life, you are never alone, and whatever dumb thing you think is going to sink you, won’t. Because heaven knows if that were true, I wouldn’t be here.