Ghosts, Mental Health

During This Quarantine, You Will Be Visited by Nine Ghosts

1. The Ghost of Material Objects downloadPast – Remember that rose quartz soothing face-massage roller from GOOP that cost $50 and promised to “Wake up your entire face with the cooling, soothing power of rose quartz crystal and promote circulation for glowy, healthy-looking skin, release tension in facial muscles, and cooling to help reduce the appearance of puffiness and under-eye bags.” that you thought you’d never need? Your order will be arriving in 3-5 business days–not a moment too soon because whenever you look in a mirror these days, you see Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster. 

2. The Ghost of Forgotten Foods Past – That half jar of lentils, the two-year-old can of sardines in oil, the chia seeds you bought for smoothies then forgot about, and the half eaten gummy worms from last Halloween have come together to inspire a new dish: Pantry Trash Surprise. 

3. The Ghost of Junk Drawers Past – A photobooth film strip with your metalhead friend Bruno from when you worked at the hardware store, the note to yourself that inexplicably says “so many worlds,” a small American flag you bought for a fourth of July celebration that you forgot to wield and wouldn’t dream of wielding now (or ever again), dozens of Thai baat coins carelessly flung in there (maybe you were saving them for the next time your travels took you to Southeast Asia, if travels take you anywhere besides your second bedroom ever again), the guardianship papers for your brother you crumpled up and shoved down deep until the day inevitably comes when they serve as the chains you have inextricably–and willingly–bound yourself with.

4. The Ghost of Medications Present – Adderall, Lamictal, Abilify, Klonopin. One to get you through each phase of the day. The Adderall so you can work and pretend it’s business as usual. The Lamictal so you don’t spiral into an episode that feels like it’s already nearing. The Abilify to lift your mood (from bleh to meh). The Klonopin to temporarily make you think that nothing is that important, that nothing will last, that lets the chips fall where they may, even if they fall off the table.

5. The Ghost of Tarot Cards Present – You do at minimum three readings a day for yourself: all different spreads: Past, Present, Future; Situation, Obstacle, Outcome; Inner, Outer, Action. They tell you nothing concrete yet they tell you everything. “What kind of sandwich should I eat for lunch?” you ask. And the cards always say some variation of the same thing: your’re strong, resilient, dark times, but, hey, you’ll persevere. There’s an abundance of Cups cards. The suite of emotions. Give me a goddamn sword for once, would you? I need intellect to guide my decisions, for feelings are no longer to be trusted.

6. The Ghost of Zoom Hangouts Present – I thought it was called social distancing for a reason. It’s melancholy, a screen of disconnected heads with no bodies, a screen of smiles that are doing their best not to cry, a screen of worries, concerns, anxieties, sorrow, grief, loneliness. I feel it through the screen, so i zoom the fuck out of there within 10 minutes.

7. The Ghost of Shelter-in-Place Extensions Future – Virginia, until June 10. New York and Chicago to inevitably follow suit. My 80-year-old father taking care of my 30-year-old disabled brother in a 900 square foot apartment. My brother’s demands, my father’s capitulations. I doubt they’re washing their hands. I have Settlers of Catan and a room full of books to sustain me. They have nothing. Settlers won’t help them anyway, and there’s no book on how to manage a toddler trapped in an adults body during a global pandemic.

8. The Ghost of “If I Could Have Done Something” Future – You will not do something. You will do nothing. Because nothing–NOTHING–is in your control. And it never was.

9. The Ghost of Coronavirus Future – The imminent threat may pass. But nothing will ever be the same again. In some ways, it’s what we need. In some ways, it will take years and lifetimes to heal from the trauma of watching people around us die, our social systems crumble, the things we believed in–about the world, about our loved ones, about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, we will be the lucky ones, the ones immune to the virus. But really, none of us is immune to the precarious framework we’ve built our lives around. The virus pulled the thread, and the whole thing came unraveled. Not even The Tiger King will be able to save us.

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