A couple—a man and a woman—moved into our neighborhood maybe ten months ago. Tom saw the man at the Big Market yesterday. The man told Tom he wasn’t living in the neighborhood anymore. He and the woman had broken up. Actually, he told Tom she’d “kicked him out of the house.”
A couple of decades ago, before I met Tom, I had a good friend, a coworker at the office. She and I went out to lunch, went out for Friday Happy Hour, and generally palled around. She invited me one Christmas to a party at her beautifully restored, three-story Victorian house in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The party was a twelve-person sit-down dinner in her gorgeous dining room. Booze was flowing. All of a sudden, her husband announced that he was seeing someone else and divorcing her. The party abruptly came to a halt.
I felt deep sorrow for my friend and rage toward her soon-be-ex-husband. He not only humiliated her and ruined her Christmas with his cruel stunt, but he ruined the holiday for all her friends, including me.
I’ve seen statistics that divorces and domestic violence spike at the holidays. Maybe antagonisms and resentments and dissatisfaction boil to the surface when couples see more of each other at the holidays than they see of each other when they’re both working fulltime.
This Shelter At Home time is much like the holidays for some, but without the fun of the holidays.
So please stay calm. And calm down (not the same thing). Be polite to each other. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way when someone has to cook dinner, wash the dishes, clean the cat box, or straighten the bed.
If you have an anger management problem, the first thing you need to do is become conscious of the problem. My father, who was a very kind man, a feminist, and a cat lover had a serious anger problem. At the least little mishap, he would react first and immediately with anger. I have a memory of sitting in my new car, of him in the passenger seat putting something—a flashlight, I think—into the glove compartment. He went to bang the compartment door closed but it didn’t close. (It closed just fine with a gentle push.) He banged and banged and banged it, growing more furious by the second and cutting his thumb on the closure, bleeding all over the place. I remember crying, “Calm down, Dad!” He died of a cardiac arrest at the age of sixty. I was thirty. Constant anger is so not good for you.
So calm the hell down during this Shelter At Home time!
Our neighbor told Tom, after his partner kicked him out of the house, he had moved in with his elderly parents in San Leandro. Instead of a three and a half block walk to his job—he’s a manager at the Big Market—he now has a forty-five minute drive to work. And since he’s an essential worker at the Big Market, despite his mask and gloves, he’s at risk for bringing the virus back to his parents. His partner is some sort of medical worker—at ten months, we didn’t know her very well—so maybe she can afford to keep the house, and maybe not. My friend long ago had to sell the Victorian house she’d worked so hard to restore and split the money with her ex-husband.
These are very stressful times. Be kind to each other! Did I remember to tell you to calm down?
Coming up in a couple of days! The April 2020 Writing Tip: “The Use of Metaphor in Genre Writing”
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