Letter during a pandemic

Amy Fusselman is the author of four books, including The Pharmacist's Mate (Black Coffee Edizioni). 

Her essays have appeared in The Washington Post and The Atlantic, among other places. She lives in New York City with her partner, Frank, and their three children.

Dad, you’re missing the global pandemic. I stay at home in the apartment with Frank and the kids you never met. I got a job. It’s the first job I’ve had in a long time that I love. I teach creative writing on the computer. I get on the computer and see my students on the screen and we read stories and talk about them. I don’t know if I will be able to do this job again, though. They might not hire me; they might not hire anybody. I am here now, anyway. The virus hasn’t found me yet. I wear a mask and gloves when I go outside and try not to touch anything, but you have to touch something. I was walking the dog with my mask and gloves on and a bird I didn’t even see hit my jacket with its poop. Sometimes I think you missed the important parts of my life. Other times I think you missed nothing. Maybe you knew what was coming. I remember how you brought me candy when you went to the drugstore to get the paper. You never took me with you, but you always brought candy back for me. It was like my first introduction to quarantine.

I liked the candy but I would have gone any dumb errand just to sit with you and talk about nothing. My kids talk to me all day long. They tell me very short stories and sometimes I don’t understand what they’re saying. I am distracted with trying to get the food into our apartment at the same time that I am trying to keep the global pandemic out of our apartment. I wipe things down, I wash my hands, I try to “be there” for my kids and my students when they become overwhelmed and/or have anxiety. Stories are important, I tell my students in their separate boxes on the screen. This week I tried to show my students that there are no rules when it comes to stories. I tried to show them that a story is a place we can enter together, where we can be free and we can be touched. I told them that rather than the idea that a story is something that can enter us, like a virus. We read a story that was two sentences long. Did that feel complete to you, I asked my students. Did that feel like a whole story. One said yes; those two sentences were a complete expression. He didn’t say whether he was touched by the story, though. It wasn’t a very emotional story. It was about living alone. 

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