How are you feeling today?
Bear: I’m feeling well, I’m actually feeling very good today.
Kristen: Me too, because I was just on a group client call for a couple of hours and I got to see human faces and we got to be human together. It’s very helpful to be reminded that you’re not alone, and that you’re not crazy for feeling all the things that you’re feeling and everyone is having that. And being able to make people laugh and realise that none of us know what we’re doing right now, it’s actually a good feeling. Because no one knows what they’re doing right now, no one. And so we have this collective moment of humanity where we say, ‘no one knows, so what are we going to make together?’
What is something that you’ve lost or that you really miss as a result of the pandemic?
Kristen: I lost my access to kids and dogs, which is a source of continuous and enormous joy. I volunteer and the library for story time and that is so done. When I moved here to Portland, I got ringworm because I kissed too many dogs, just all of them that I met, I couldn’t resist! And now you’re not allowed to even look at dogs, we’re all just going about our business and nobody can look at anybody else and we’re socially distanced but we’re energetically distanced and spiritually distanced too. So that’s been hard, kids and dogs.
Bear: I would say that the collective energy is starting to ebb away, that politeness and friendliness that I have come to love in Portland is beginning to dilute, spread a little thin. So I miss the ‘really happy to be alive’ Portlander, and I miss being able to make eye contact with people and say hello. A lot of people have equivocated just completely throwing up a wall and being completely unavailable in lieu of painfully saying hi and not being able to go any further. It’s hard because they’re preserving their own well being, but it’s hard to see that. I guess I miss seeing time as something that I had to treat with care, I had to really go out of my way to make sure that I could fulfill all of my responsibilities in a twenty-four hour period, now I’m just looking at a wall and thinking, ‘I’m not sure if the white on the wall is completely even, I might have to paint the whole thing’. I miss time having meaning.
What is something that you’ve gained?
Bear: I think I’ve gained an appreciation for little things – shaking hands, getting close to someone, hugs. I’ve now gained a new understanding of how important it is to make connections with people in different ways, that I’m not used to. I’ve gained a new appreciation for how lazy I’ve been with making meaningful relationships – and knowing how many meaningful relationships I do have in my life.
Kristen: I’ve learned that I have a great deal of relationships that extend beyond paying client boundaries, I love them. And because of the pandemic, it’s ok to say ‘I love you’ now, because we all have this sort of tenuous feeling of we don’t know when we’ll get to say it next, or see each other next. So I say I love you a lot more now.
Bear: I do that too, I do say I love you a lot more now. I think that the people I’m in touch with – instead of goodbyes, they’re getting ‘I love you’. And that’s hard for some of my male friends to accept, they like to make a joke about it here and there, but they know that I’m not saying it to provoke them, I’m saying it because I mean it.
Who are you most worried about right now?
Kristen: We are protecting our physical health at the cost of our emotional, spiritual and mental health in many cases and I’m worried about what we are losing in that pursuit. It would appear that we are losing a great deal and I don’t know that we’re even aware of the extent of what we’re losing just yet, but it’s a great deal. I’m worried about when we come out of this, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually… My people are not going to be ok – and that’s both to be expected and something to really keep an eye on. Just because we’re out of lock down, doesn’t mean that we’re suddenly all ok. Physically ok is very different from well-being ok.
Bear: Honestly, I’m worried about my kids and I’m worried about their friends. And I’m worried about all the people who live in areas where they’re not treating the illness seriously. My kids live in North Carolina and they’re talking about reactivating the government on May 18th, and that’s still a couple of weeks away and we don’t know what that looks like, but it sounds and feels reckless, like they’re choosing dollars over lives. We don’t have a real solid source of information that we can rely on. I’m worried about them for what their immediate future is, but I also worry about them in the long run, later in life – are they going to have a different quality of life? You want to believe that you’re past all these world-stopping events and that you’ve done your job as a parent and you want to have all the answers for your kids and prepare them for the real world, but my whole life, I’ve prepared them for a world that doesn’t exist right now. And it may not exist again in the same way for a very long time, so their life is truly upturned. I’m 43, I’ve been around, they’re just getting started. What’s it going to take for us to stop destroying each other? I hate that that’s the question my kids have to face, I worry about that all the time.
What are you most hopeful for?
Bear: I’m hopeful that this doesn’t destroy everything that we’ve worked so hard to build, I’m hopeful that we can begin growing back. I hope that the doctors are making the right decisions, I hope that the people in power are choosing correctly. I’m hopeful that people are helping each other through this, making connections, that they’re not just plunging their head into the sand and waiting til September ends. I hope that there are more people who feel inspired to grow and change and help. I hope that once we get past this, that caring about each other doesn’t become the latest t-shirt fad, that people don’t go back to the wicked ways they had before all this. I hope that people learn, that they learn, that they don’t forget to love one another.
Kristen: I’m hopeful that people will remember simple things, like how to be here and how to be with each other. I’m hopeful that people stop abandoning their interiors and start paying attention to everything that’s going on within them. I’m hopeful, based on the number of people I talk with each week, that a lot of us are unlearning productivity, unlearning the bottom line we’ve been sold of more, more, more, push, push, push. I’m hopeful that those patterns get unlearned, because when we unlearn those patterns, lots of things change very quickly, in the best possible way. I’m hopeful that we can find new ways of being that work for everybody, not just cis het white men who sell passive income strategies! I’m hopeful that there’s a way for all of us forward, and I’m hopeful that that looks nothing like the America that now lies in shambles.