Shut Down Week 2

Nothing’s changed in my one-bedroom condo.

I wake up frozen in fear. My old Ikea down comforter shrouds my body. Before peeking out at the same world I fell asleep in, I breathe in and say, “The troubles of the world don’t own me.” I breathe out and say, “I don’t own the troubles of the world.” After twenty or thirty minutes forcing my mind back to this cushioning mantra, I go to my computer for the latest messages and news about friends impacted by the coronovirus.

At the hospital, a friend is off a ventilator and in for a long recovery, thanking those around him for saving his life. The Panama Canal Authoirty finally approved passage of a cruise ship that had been stranded off the coast of Chile, shunned at every port. Four people died onboard, and my friend, healthy but worried is locked down in a cabin with no windows and scant information. 

IMG_4785Henry jumps around to say he’s ready to go out and read his drizzled mail on the low hanging boxwood branches. There’s a shift on the sidewalk; less people than the day before, fewer parked cars, more birds. And Henry makes less and less whiffer stops. His friends must be on a later schedule, sleeping in. It’s the second week after all.

We pause at a neglected sidewalk garden, elevated in a bas-relief concrete trough. In there a crow pecks at dead twigs and tendrils from last year’s plantings. We’re not more than ten feet from her. She drops a brittle stick on the cement ledge, plunks a claw down on one end, grabs the other end and pulls up, breaking off a piece of nesting material. Gathering a few more right-sized pieces she jumps down and walks across the empty street with a full beak. Henry is nonchalant, as if she were just another member of the family. Dogs have a way of knowing. They read souls.

Around the corner, we stop to watch workmen covering another couture clothing shop with sheets of plywood. Pretty soon the whole street will look like a war zone of boarded up storefronts. Crows caw overhead. It’s our mother and her kin squawking about the lack of garbage pickings in the alleys behind the shut-down restaurants.

Back home you’d never know Chicago is on STAY-AT-HOME orders from the mayor unless you open the freezer and see 25 frozen Mac ’n’ Cheeses from Trader Joe’s. Other than that, nothing’s changed inside. I spend the whole day in hysterics laughing at jokes, memes and cartoons that people send me and post online. At first there were all dog jokes, like two dogs looking at a couch full of papers and a computer. One says to the other, “Do you think we’ll ever get our couch back?” The other says, “I think it’s going to
be a couple of weeks.”

After that, there were husband and wife jokes, like the photo of a woman knitting aIMG_5462 noose for her husband. And one of a woman digging a grave in the garden. Now I’m getting a lot of jokes with swear words:

Today the devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”

And I whispered back, “Six feet, motherfucker.”

That’s another way of saying the troubles of the world don’t own me. I don’t own the troubles of the world.

17 thoughts on “Shut Down Week 2

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this! I imagine myself walking with you and Henry through the wonderful neighborhood. I miss you, hang in there and soon we will be doing all of the things we love in the wonderful neighborhood. Tell Henry I miss him too!

    I look forward to your next story! These stories are wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Appreciate the uplift here within the realities of the moment! Well done. Love the mantra returning at the end. As a dog owner, the cone comic also really worked for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Regan,

    Just so excellent.! I am doing mantas and rubbing a little prayer stone from
    when I had back surgery in 2016. I am very fortunate to live close to the earth temporarily. The birds and all the new growth coming up keeps me hopeful. I go on walks in the woods where I have to watch for dogs as their owners let them go without a leash and they are a bit challenging.

    Henry is the best dog ever, he knows how to keep his wits about him.


    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Couldn’t sleep! Great story and very reassuring that I am not alone in my isolation.

    Thank you. Stay healthy.

    Best always, Marilyn

    On Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 11:13 PM Regan Burke Back Story Essays wrote:

    > Regan Burke posted: “Nothing’s changed in my one-bedroom condo. I wake up > frozen in fear. My old Ikea down comforter shrouds my body. Before peeking > out at the same world I fell asleep in, I breathe in and say, “The troubles > of the world don’t own me.” I breathe out and say, ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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