I’ve been working from home since March 2020. I am one of the lucky ones, able to sit in a comfortable chair and do all my paid tasks with the joining of fingertips and keycaps, sometimes with video and audio, sometimes with time-sensitive texts, but always with communication, cooperation and collaboration of real people.
I was lucky again when I contracted a virus last week. I was pretty sure I had COVID, despite two vaccines administered almost one year ago, and despite a booster administered last month along with a first-ever flu shot. Omicron, I figured, because of the unceasing runny nose, the sneezing, the aches, pains and fatigue. And because my daughter tested positive after she had been with us for the holidays. A good old flu, it turns out, was the culprit–apparently not the one I was protected against. I’m getting better, but my lungs are still in low-stakes battle.
I take walks. I take fast walks, so that I work up a sweat, engaging my hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteals. I pump my arms and visualize a near criss-crossing of my upper body, stretching the erector spinae muscles of my back. I want a workout. I want my heart to not forget that before the pandemic, it squeezed blood and oxygen through my body with deep and efficient force during my brisk commutes every day, and more so, during my weekend runs. For over a year, though, little bones in my feet rebel. Just walk, they tell me. We are weary. We’ve been at this a long time.
So I simulate my commute by walking twice a day, even though it isn’t required. On the weekends now, I walk twice as long, and my runs that I considered part of my identity may or may not be archived to memories, to past tense, to what was. I am not willing to risk, for even one week, the ephemeral ability to step outside. It turns out that I need air. I need sky. I need to touch my feet on our precarious planet.
While inside, though, I read a lot, and it is luxurious, and I am lucky for another thing: that at this point in my life, I can buy books in twos and threes. I go to websites of my favorite small presses, always expanding, and purchase collections of poetry, unusual fiction and hybrid essays from daring authors like those who are in this issue of Club Plum, Volume 3, Issue 1, that drops today. Maybe the authors are cataloging their memories, those stuck to spoons in their silverware drawer. Maybe they are speeding away from hurtful ones on bicycles. Maybe they are grasping onto flickers of lucidity that shine in the eyes of their fathers whose memories are evaporating before them.
Please join us as we make our way in time.
Yours in words and art,
Thea Swanson is a feminist atheist who holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Oregon. She is the Founding Editor of Club Plum Literary Journal, and her poetry, fiction, essays and reviews are published in places such as World Literature Today, Mid-American Review and Northwest Review.