"The New Normal" is now the "The New New Normal"
It’s the last day of school for my family as we shelter in place in Northern California.
So many mixed emotions as we approached the end of the year. So many loose ends to tie up. So many plans cancelled and new plans to be made for the summer.
Covid19 had already been weighing heavily on my mind. I have an autoimmune disorder. I was approaching half a century in age. Yea. Fun times. Trying to stay healthy to raise a child and to take care of my husband and to keep the business alive. Then about three weeks ago, Ahmaud Arbery was shot as he went for a run. It shook my world so hard. I see my friend’s 4 year old on social media every day. He is so smart. I see my friend’s nephews all grown up and think how did time fly? My nephew is done with high school but no big graduation ceremonies. I see my own son outgrowing his pants and see his mind mature. We are a rainbow coalition on my FB page. I have fear for the safety of all these people in my world. But, I deeply understand that there is a different level of that fear for my African American friends. There are unwritten rules that they need to follow. My heart was heavy for all of them. I felt my privilege to be able to run when and where I want.
Too soon after. George Floyd. I said his name in my mind so many times as I did my daily run. I didn’t even need to see the video. I saw the still images. I was so disturbed. But, the world had no idea that this was the final straw. We went on with our daily lives. Masks. Hand sanitizer. Trying to keep healthy in mind and body. I was working on making a grassless front lawn. I worked myself to physical exhaustion everyday.
Then, Saturday. I fell asleep on the sofa. My phone blew up with videos and messages. I was getting videos of the looting on 16th street from an apartment’s vantage point up high in the sky. I was groggy from the afternoon nap. Rotely started dinner. Then, the fire two and a half blocks away from Tselaine. The live video feed on FB. My mind spun. So much destruction. So much anger. I was sure that the wolves of destruction would somehow miraculously be kept at bay at 18th Street. Not sure why my mind needed to create that illusion. Then, the text came that Ritual between 20th and 21st was hit. How was I going to save the store from California? Like, all of our work from the last 12 years was in there. The doorman assured us that our corner was not hit. But, my mind said, “YET.” Angela from Ritual sent us a message via Instagram. The ancient gates held. The tiny store at 20th and Walnut had survived the worst of Saturday night.
YET. The specter of destruction still loomed. Everyday someone would send me photos of the storefront. And, I would breathe a sigh of relief.
Then, day after day, more protests but the store still stood. But, images of clashes between protestors came up in my searches for better information on what was happening in Philadelphia and the country. The press were being detained. Medics were handcuffed. Tear gas. Rubber bullets. ATMs being blown up. Groceries and pharmacies destroyed. National Guard.
All the while, maintaining normalcy in the household. Year end teacher gifts. School projects. Summer camp planning. The dishwasher was on the fritz. Talking to my child about fairness and prejudice. Making sure there is enough PPE for the store for Phase Yellow. My brain circuits were starting to fry. People I didn’t know very well were reaching out to me and sending messages of love and support. The store still stood as of last night.
I recognized a little of what I was feeling as survivor’s guilt. Like, why was everything destroyed around us, but our little corner stayed intact? How do we reopen? When do we reopen? Is it wrong to reopen? Is it safe to reopen? So many questions.
Well, my blog post has to end because the house is waking.
We, at Tselaine, have served the community for so many years. We have welcomed all into our tiny store and miss the daily routine of seeing our neighbors. I want to reopen and to start feeling normal again. But, I know that “normal” is gone. A revolution is taking place in front of our eyes. I realized that we have had a few African American jewelry designers and products in our store. But, I pledge to support more Black makers. 10% of gift card sales will be donated to Campaign Zero which works towards ending overuse of police force. 10% of online store sales will be donated to the NAACP.
Praying for understanding, change, peace, and love.