The past month has been characterized by strangeness. I’ve had the urge to “up and remake my life” several times over, each time to be duly put in my place by sickness- of the garden-variety cold and flu sort, but stronger and badder than I’ve experienced before. Until finally, losing my voice, which is a very odd thing to have happen. I’m sure it will return, in a week or so, after a thousand more cups of herbal tea with honey, but here I am, only able to whisper.
The surprising number of things we enjoy that require speaking include: tea with friends, language lessons, using the telephone. All types of socializing.
In stores the past couple of days Daniel has taken to preemptively explaining my condition to the salesperson: “My wife is a totally normal person, but she lost her voice, so she’s just going to whisper wierdly and I’ll interpret into normal speech.”
As we pulled all our books down this past week to make room for glorious new shelves by Weather Furniture, I flipped through one of my college textbooks about art movements of the 20th century. It made me nostalgic for ambition, those people who started these movements and magazines and thought they would really change things: De Stijl, Functionalism, Bauhaus, Radical Design, Anti-Design, Deutscher Werkbund, Modern, Post Modern, Rationalism, Constructivism, Organic Design….
I’ve been reading The White Album by Joan Didion, a collection of essays she wrote in Los Angeles around 50 years ago exactly. Some are about politics, some about the vain role of Hollywood stars in social movements, some about racism, some on cultural mores. What disturbs me, what makes me feel like “why….?” is that they could have been written last year or last week. All the language, all the conversations about all these sorts of issues has not changed.
The stories we tell ourselves have not changed.