Read this dispatch from the writer Becca Mangus, a great and true friend of Dark Angels, as she brilliantly chronicles the moment.
I have had no words for the past two weeks. Every time I sit down to write, I find myself intensely interested in the floor. Two weeks has felt like two lifetimes. Who even remembers who they were two weeks ago? We’ve all been on intense, personal journeys in this time. This has been mine.
My quarantine started with a midnight getaway. Late night Saturday two hazy weeks ago, which might as well be two centuries ago, the government sneakily introduced shielding measures for the most vulnerable. They amount to: DANGER IS EVERYWHERE. DON’T DO ANYTHING. IF YOU STEP OUTSIDE THAT DOOR THE SWEET RELEASE OF DEATH AWAITS YOU.
And somehow, that means me. I’m aware I am higher risk but you know, don’t bang on about it. Suddenly going for a walk down a remote country lane is fraught with peril. The shops are forbidden. Human contact is banned. I’m not even supposed to have a hug.
So in the middle of the night, my partner and I fled London. We’re exceptionally lucky that my mum’s house in deepest, darkest Kent was lying empty, so there we went. Between inherited Jewish trauma and years on the transplant list, I’ve always mentally had a bag packed. Fleeing really puts your priorities into perspective. What matters most? What do you truly care about?
Turns out I really care about my spices. I refuse to eat boring food. While my partner turned the house upside down packing essentials like our prized toilet roll collection, I lovingly raked through my draws of spices, tinkering and decanting blends I’ve learned from my travels. Every flavour has a story, a person behind it and those stories are precious to me. Like the Nigerian spice blend I learned from a Yoruba dialysis nurse that really perks up chicken, or the hungarian paprika I bought from a coven of old women at a ruin bar. So I take them all with me. No spice left behind. No story left behind.
Well, I did leave behind the blades of mace. We must all make sacrifices.
Books, art supplies and tarot cards came next. A few choice notebooks and pens. A few animals who’ve been with me over the years, like Bun Bun the travel bunny, Seal Il Magnifico and Cesare Beargia. My creature comforts. I left clothes until last. I’ve always lusted after a good fashion sense, but never quite got the hang of it. Now it doesn’t seem worth the bother, so I bung whatever I grab from the cupboard and stuff it in a suitcase. Orange leopard print. A grey granny cardigan. Old man leggings. In they all go.
We ransack the flat in about an hour and flee the city. At first, I felt safe. Then the grief washes over me.
I was indignant. Who the hell do they think I am? Some kind of pathetic creature on the brink of death? I’m fucking fabulous. I’m like a bloody cockroach, I’ll survive anything. I’ll buy myself a ludicrous box of 100 chocolates and 3kg of cheese to show that virus what I bloody well think of it. *Virtually flounces off.*
I was angry. When I look at my industry, I see empty slogans and some gestures that are utterly futile, lacking in empathy and putting it bluntly, look like clueless and vapid self-promotional crap. I couldn’t care less about pithy one liners with nice typography right now. I care about whether a business can help and how easy they make that process. I care that they communicate in a way that’s compassionate, simple and clear. I care about kindness. What else is there?
I was empty. My career is gone. I felt like I was falling through the cracks in society. Again. Many people I had hoped would show support evaporated into the aether. I told one person who habitually dumps their negativity on me to absolutely fuck off. PoliteIy. I felt better. I had no ideas. No words. I was still. I hate stillness.
Then the weekend came, and the angry fog started to lift. For years, I’ve felt like a jigsaw tipped out of the box. Through the small things, I’ve started piecing myself together again.
Surprising old and new connections popped up. I made pastry. I drank tea and listened to birds sing. I started taking photographs. I had a long Zoom chat with fabulous, smart women talking about sex and feminism and how dressing for yourself makes you feel powerful. I played a very silly D&D game where one person put the party to sleep in battle and another accidentally burned down a street. I failed miserably at trivial pursuit circa 2003. I had a forbidden walk and saw a wild deer. I listened to owls and watched the stars.
Little by little, I’m finding some measure of peace.
As someone annoying once said, there’s always opportunity in crisis. Figuring out who you are and finding a measure of peace with that is the real opportunity here, I think.
With no one to see you, no one to judge you, you can be and do whatever the hell you want. You can be any part of yourself. You can embrace all your selves. You can be complex and multidimensional and irrational and you don’t have to make any sense to anyone. You can connect with new people and be yourself and find out just how liberating that is.
And that is enough. That is perfect.
WATCHING: Tiger King. It’s actually mental. Really quite enjoying it.
READING: Wolf Hall and https://www.duffywords.com/ What an astonishing piece of writing.
LISTENING: You’re Dead to Me by Greg Jenner on BBC Sounds – a history podcast for people that don’t like history.
EATING: Cheese. A lot of cheese.
Wishing you all super well,
PS if you would like to chat with me about anything weird, random or otherwise, just pop me a note. I am all about weird, random and surprising connections and conversations right now.