Rainbow drawings are springing up everywhere these days, taped to windows, and sketched on driveways. Crayon messages of hope that say, “Hey, we haven’t killed each other in here, yet.”
If you’re in the neighbourhood, (Uplands, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) stop by Graeme Parsons’ place on your daily mental-health reprieve from the prison you used to call home. Stop by, as in stay on the sidewalk where you belong. Don’t even think about ringing the doorbell.
There’s no one to greet you, not without a mask and a hazmat suit, but sitting in the driveway is a whiteboard with Graeme’s gift to his fellow sufferers…
—his pun of the day.
If you don’t live in the neighbourhood, Graeme’s collecting followers on Instagram.
As Graeme’s father, John says, “There’s a lot of darkness in the world and it’s nice to be able to shine a light when you can.”
Sebastian loosened his tie.
“Long day?” Claire, his housekeeper/cook/lifesaver asked.
“Board meeting,” Sebastian said, liberating a beer from the fridge.
“Upstairs.” Claire shut the oven, set the timer. “You might want to check on Ethan.”
Claire shrugged. “You know Ethan.”
Sebastian nodded. “Yeah.” On a good day, Ethan wasn’t a talker. On a bad day, Sebastian had to beat the words out of him.
“Okay, the chicken’s got another fifteen minutes,” Claire said, washing her hands and slipping her wedding rings back on. “Everything else is in the warming drawer. See you tomorrow.”
His boys meant everything to Sebastian. They were the family he’d never thought he’d have. Halfway up the stairs, he knew Claire had been right. Ethan was worried about something, Sebastian could hear it in the tones he was pounding out of the piano.
The family room sprawled across the top of the house, Ethan’s piano sitting at one end, a seemingly never-ending sectional facing a large flat screen at the other, and various exercise stations plunked in the middle. The flat screen was dark, and it would stay that way until Sebastian gave permission for it to be on. It was a house rule, meant to remind and reinforce their central family dynamic—Sebastian was in charge.
Mark, racing against himself on a stationary bike, didn’t see Sebastian standing in the doorway, but Ru, sitting cross-legged on the sectional with his ever present laptop, did. A smile lighting his face, he closed his laptop and crossed the room to Sebastian. At thirty-nine, Ru was on track for tenure next year, and Sebastian couldn’t be happier for him.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony ended with a crash of fingerwork, and Ethan seeing Sebastian, smiled and abandoned his bench. At twenty-eight, Ethan was the youngest of his three boys, and played with the city’s symphony orchestra.
Ethan stepped in front of Mark’s bike, pointed at the doorway. Mark turned, grinned, and shut the bike down. The newest addition to their family, Mark had been Ru’s personal trainer. He still was.
“Boys,” Sebastian said, happy to be home.
With the ease of practice, all three men went to their knees.
In the space of a few weeks our priorities have changed. The small aggravations of daily life, the larger worries that used to keep us up at night, seem trivial now.
Stuck at home, staring at our screens and each other, we redefine important. Find the things that matter to us, that make this drag of days easier, that make us smile.
For the most part, these sanity savers aren’t new. They’ve been right there under our noses, visible but unseen, ignored in the hustle and bustle that used to be our lives. Only now, do they step onto centre stage, now that our world has shrunk to four walls.
Prior to the Covid lockdown, windows didn’t play a big role in my life. I walked past them without thought. Raised a blind in the morning, lowered it at night, and never stopped to look.
I look now.
When the world stops, How do we go on? When everything changes, What remains? In the stillness of a halted city, Amid the bombardment of the news, Adrift in enforced solitude, What do we have? Cotton clouds and blue skies. Spring rustling through awakening trees. The chatter of returning birds. The smile of a loved one. The laughter of a child. Music to keep us company as we stare out the window at an empty street. We have what we've always had, Each other.
As much as we might wish it so, we are not living in a Hollywood blockbuster. Will Smith isn’t coming to our rescue in a stolen alien spaceship.
No, we’re going to have to rescue ourselves.
We’re going to have to step up, do the right thing, be responsible.
Scary thought, isn’t it?