Dear Brooksie of 2019,
I’m watching you, right now, through the eyes of memory. You’re walking backwards towards me across the landscape of our life. You’re blind to me, to each moment ahead of you, to each step before you take it. But to you, I’m mute. I can wave my arms and shout, but I can’t tell you what’s coming. That’s a real shame. Between you and me, Brooksie of 2019, the year ahead is a doozie.
If you want to picture what that’s like – well, picture the opening scene of 28 Days Later. Just picture that. The streets are empty, especially in the places where they’re usually busiest, and everyone has a terrible haircut. The only difference is, you won’t wake up naked in a hospital, nor will you encounter any zombies. Yet.
I won’t waste too much time on that, on describing what’s going on now and the words you’ll grow accustomed to hearing, other than to say you’re doing fine. We’re doing fine. We’re among the lucky ones, with a house and a family and a genius, borderline-survivalist, architect father who’s been preparing for this sort of thing your entire life. You’ll appreciate him now, and you’ll appreciate your family, and you’ll appreciate that we’re among the lucky ones, as much as you’ll worry about the unlucky ones.
Let’s talk about that now, just a bit. About a few of the things you’ll appreciate, and what you should appreciate. In times of crisis, we realize what’s most important to us. Like if your house caught fire, and you only had a minute to decide what to grab.
I see you now, before the spark. I see you in August, walking two of your canine clients along the beach. The waves curl towards you like cats’ tongues, and you can taste the salt water in the air. Appreciate the ocean, because it will still be there for you, still moving, during a time when the rest of the world has stopped.
Oh, and before I forget, appreciate the dogs you walk. You’ll miss them during quarantine, when going to their owners’ houses would be ill-advised. Even if it weren’t, the owners are trapped indoors just like you are now, and walking their dogs has suddenly become the highlight of their day.
I see you, as you take the money you earn and you go buy organic mochi with Sara, as much as you can fit in your stomach. Appreciate that mochi. You don’t realize how much of it you’re eating, but you will, when you realize that contrary to your own predictions, you’ve actually lost weight during quarantine. More than missing the mochi, you’ll miss eating it in Sara’s car, and listening to music that feels like an extension of her. You’ll miss watching the world go buy, making observations about the people who still circulate, shaking hands and bumping shoulders and breathing each other’s air. Appreciate that, too – the fact that it’s still an option to be disgusting.
Oh, and this goes without saying, but appreciate Sara. You’ll still talk to her, every day, just like you do now. The only difference is, there’ll be a computer screen between you. You’ll Netflix Party and make each other laugh and talk about everything you’ll do when the world starts turning again.
She’s glad you made her go to the movies, by the way. Don’t be afraid to talk her into having fun, into doing things just because, even when there’s work to be done. She’ll thank you for it, and she’ll wish you did it more.
Next, appreciate books. And appreciate film, and appreciate television, and appreciate art. Appreciate the worlds and the people inside everyone’s head, and the miracle of words on paper, of pixels on a screen, that allows you to visit them, to move between them. You’ll spend a lot of time in these worlds during quarantine, and you’ll appreciate them more than ever.
On that note, appreciate the Newport MFA. The memory of last June is still fresh in your mind, the memory of sitting, semicircular, on the grass, the ocean glittering like granulated sugar as you listen to them read. That memory will stay precious, like a pearl inside an oyster.
Appreciate the community you have with them. It’s a community that will be brought closer together by the crisis to come, even when, by necessity, they’re far away. Appreciate the miracle of technology, even if phones make people stupid, because it will allow you to connect. On that note, appreciate that you aren’t living in 1918, and this isn’t the Spanish Flu because there’s no way you could have survived this without Netflix.
You still live inside me, Brooksie of 2019, every past rendition of myself nested with you, like a Russian doll. Comprising who I am now. And you can’t hear this when it matters, but you can hear it now: strange, troublesome, frightening times are coming, but you’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay, because the people and the things and the communities we love are keeping us afloat, lifting us like a thousand invisible arms. You’re so blessed, and you’ll only realize how blessed you are when the earth stops spinning on its axis and the world comes to a halt.
Love from 2020,
Brooks Cobb Fontaine