Misty on Monday and on Community
On Monday, March 13, I woke up tired. I had a weekend of advocacy where I pushed for more solar panels in CA and worked with friends fighting for public education. Both are a heavy lift, which I am up to do. But when I woke up on Monday, the tasks of Saturday and Sunday and the time change manifested as peak tired for me. This is not a usual feeling for me when I wake up. I have a pretty good compass on my inner landscape so I knew Monday needed to be a day where I relaxed.
I then read the update on the Ukrainian pregnant mom pulled out of a Russian bombed maternity hospital. The mom laying on a stretcher with a red towel and black polkadots, a photo seen around the world, had died along with her baby. That was when I could separate in my body the fatigue from tired. Tired was my body, fatigue was in my psyche. I decided right then that relaxed meant staying in bed and watching a movie.
I tried to focus on what would help that fatigue. Fate is so weird but I just then saw a FB posting by a friend that she watched the new version of West Side Story and enjoyed it. Reading her write up made me misty. I thought, “What is this misty about?”
The misty was partly due to my neighbor Bella. Bella is an actress and a dancer and she is in the new West Side Story. Over the course of the last year Bella was keeping me updated on the delay and later release of the film. Since fall, I have asked about her friends’ and family’s response to the film especially her family in Puerto Rico. She told me that everyone was proud. I had been wanting to see the film for Bella but the part of me that was resistant to the movie, because I could not understand why an iconic film was being remade, had evidently gotten in my way because I had still not seen it.
Pressing harder on my misty, my mind went to Saturday when my husband Charlie told me he saw Bella and her boyfriend Will dressed up and taking photos in the lobby and Charlie thought maybe they were going to an awards party like Critics Choice. I never confirmed but I thought of Bella’s excitement and her joy and how in an effed up Covid world (and maybe some mixed reviews and lower box office totals) nothing had muted Bella’s joy or excitement. This moved me, I wanted to support that joy. I knew the ache would be relieved by action and in this case staying in bed watching the movie and being a support for Bella was that action. By staying in bed I was standing up for joy.
I was excited when I saw Bella in the “America” number. It was beautiful. So was the famous gym number. I was so happy to connect to the film and to support my neighbor. How perfectly west side of LA story.
While I did enjoy the film I was challenged by noise above me. My friend and neighbor Sari was renovating her condo and the workers were pounding while I watched the film. Sari had been wanting to renovate her place for years, but she delayed in part because her arthritis and other health issues which made the task seem Herculean. Unfortunately, a couple months ago Sari’s health got so bad she moved to assisted living and family and friends helped clear out her place. Sari hired a contractor and they were pulling up floors and fixing windows and doing the heavy work that comes with fixing a unit in a nearly 100 year old building. While it was loud, I did not complain because I was happy for Sari to get this work done, something she had wanted to do for such a long time. Strangely, the noise did not impact my enjoyment of the film. I allowed myself to be transported to the world of sharks and jets.
After I finished the film and ran out to do an errand several of us in the building got an email from Sari’s sister. She told us that Sari had passed away in the afternoon. I was in shock. Sari was ill but death was not on the horizon as far as we knew. Her sister said that the assisted living facility was super tight on visitors and the residents stayed in their rooms. The loneliness impacted Sari and taken a toll on her body. Having now completed (this week) year two of Covid era and having seen the impact of loneliness around me, what happened to Sari made sense.
No one questions the power of family but community is beyond our genes and equally powerful. Blue Zones are where people who live to be 100+ . We know these zones in the world have people with vibrant lives that are full of not just lean diets but also strong communities. People plugged into the successes and the hurdles of other people. This is communitiy.
Since Monday, the people in my building have all been reaching out to each other. We are going to gather and share drink and food and remember Sari. This is what you do when you are part of a community. You support and help and just share your lives.
A movie like West Side Story can tap into community including the downside of tribes but still touch the love between humans and humanity. A neighbor like Sari, with hands twisted by arthritis who painted and filled out post cards to help flip a state blue because her neighbor asked, this is community. Sari also showed up at a high school graduation on a sidewalk because of a crazy pandemic and because she loved my son Jack. A neighbor like Bella who leaps, jumps and twirls on a hot sidewalk in New York can bring joy to the world and her community. A mom on a black polkadotted towel can talk to the world long after she has left it, these are the days that we live in. Days that are so poignant that one gets misty on a Monday in March and wonders about community in RanchoLand.