You can’t outrun the apocalypse

That title sounds either like something from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or about the coronavirus/COVID 19. But it’s not at all about the former and only a bit of the latter.

Usually, I have songs that get stuck in my head for days and days. Most often, they’re sappy, cheesy songs from the 80s that I find unpleasant to have in my head, but I don’t dare name them because inevitably I’ll offend someone who loves those songs.

But all this week, I’ve had a very coronavirus-inspired song by Ani DiFranco stuck in my head. The song’s called “Garden of Simple” and the specific lyrics that have been replaying in my head are:

The bacteria are coming

To take us down, that’s my prediction

It’s the answer to this culture of the quick-fix prescription

I always found that song to have the ring of truth to it. A global pandemic is not something that surprises me in the least. If you look throughout history, we were due for one. In fact, I’m actually a bit surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.

I queued up that song to listen to as I drove to Target in search of more emergency supplies. The scene there was nothing short of apocalyptic, with aisle after aisle full of completely empty shelves. It made me glad that a friend tipped me off over a month ago that shit was about to hit the fan and I started stocking up then.

But when I was listening to that song in the car, it instantly put me back in the same state of mind I was in when the album first came out. It came out in 2001 and I was still listening to it regularly at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

I guess 9/11 was the last time I had this sort of impending doom about the world around me, though in many ways that was better because people were more inclined to help one another than to hoard ridiculous amounts of supplies while leaving none for their neighbors.

But I also realized that it was in response to 9/11 that I finally decided that I needed to move back to my hometown. I wanted to grow my own organic food (which I was never motivated enough to do well), learn to sew and make bread and make soap. The latter two I did particularly well, I might add, and made my family’s bread for years and still make our soap.

Once I got back to my hometown, my wannabe homesteading interests didn’t last. I quickly regretted the move and wanted an undo button. But then I found out I was pregnant (surprise!) with my third child a couple months later. So part of me tried to hang on to this quaint idea that I’d save my whole hometown. (This is where it starts to have some fuzzy underpants gnomes logic, since I didn’t actually have any concrete plans for how I was going to singlehandedly save my town from itself and everything that sucked about it.)

The parallel between the last major panic I felt during 9/11 and this one is similar in many ways. The future seems even more uncertain now, especially since this time my husband has cancer. It may not be a faceless enemy this time but I still have that same sort of lurking dread that something bad is coming and I don’t know when or from where.

But the real difference between that time of uncertainty and this one is that I no longer think of running away. The place where I grew up doesn’t feel like a safe place anymore. Maybe my lack of desire to escape is due to maturity and wisdom or maybe it’s just a benefit of therapy.

What I do know is that this is not the time to run. No matter how uncertain and sometimes frankly terrifying my future feels, the only person I need to save is myself and the little family I’ve created. I need to summon up all the strength I have—which often doesn’t feel like enough—and stay and fight.

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