Something is rotten in the State of Demark.

Marcellus famously spoke these words when he knew something was wrong. I spoke these words in my head on the day school was cancelled for the remaining school year. It’s not that I thought there was corruption or disarray, it was more of a foreboding of things to come. A gut feeling. A sixth sense.

I played the game for a while. I pretended that things would be ok and that my daughter would have a normal end of the school year and that this was just a short flick of time. I think all of us held out some kind of hope that things would be normal again soon. Streets wouldn’t be empty. People wouldn’t look scared. The birds would start chirping. Pets would come out from under the beds. And life would begin again in spring, like it always does after a long brutal winter.

And then it didn’t. Because something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

The last four months have been like something out a movie. Like it isn’t real. Sometimes I look back on those early days in March and try to piece together what I was thinking, and feeling. I held out that school would re-open for my Anna. I held out that we would go on spring break with our friends. I held out that our lives weren’t as disrupted as they seemed. And then it hit me like a damn tidal wave. Small businesses closed. We began to wear masks – both literally and figuratively. Store shelves are bare. We don’t look each other in the eye. Millions are suddenly unemployed and people are angry, and scared, and sad. And we all walk around like zombies in some kind of Apocalypse. Like the walking dead.

For a long time a lot of people didn’t leave their homes which actually says a lot for those of us in Michigan who go screaming out of our homes once the sun comes out in, I don’t know, April? If this had happened in the dead of winter we would all be like “sweet, nothing’s really different’. But there we sat, inside our homes, while were told we were not essential to the world and that if we left we would be responsible for not flattening the curve.

If you want to look at the good, I can say I’ve started reading again. And painting. And I connected with people that I hadn’t in a long time. So that’s good. But it also has made me more of a recluse, because that’s my nature. I find I enjoy sitting on my back deck reading and wandering around among my flowers and trying to make sense of the chaos. I have my Puppy and my stupid cat to keep me occupied as I navigate just what it means to be non-essential in this business world that I thought I belonged it. Strange times, indeed.

Yet, for months I’ve been thinking about these four months. And how screwed up we all are. And how fragile we all are. And how we adapt. And how things become normal, or not. And how you think you know how your life is going, and then “NOPE”. My daughter leaves for college in a few weeks. My business is non-essential. My Puppy is the worst dog on the planet. I’ve realized those that care, and those that don’t. I see the sadness in a lot of faces. I see how we take care of our most vulnerable. I see how much I need to take care of my parents. I see how much money I wasted. I see how businesses are always on the edge of survival. Did it really take a pandemic to show me this?

So why am I posting all these pictures of Anna and her friends? Because they haven’t let this pandemic dull their enthusiasm for life. They’re optimistic. They are 18 and happy and smart and look at the world as we all should ~ that among it’s sham drudgery and hopelessness, it’s still a beautiful place.

Maybe something is rotten in the state of Denmark. It sure seems that way. But until I see it in these kids faces, I am hopeful.

With love from Grand Haven,