As I watch TV news and get the latest updates on the covid-19 virus, I see pictures from Italy and Spain that paint a horrific picture of what they are going through.
Then: A commercial appears, many commercials in a row and they are jarring now, showing us how life used to be just a few weeks ago. People dance, hug, eat in restaurants, kids are out playing, cars are being sold, Viking cruses promoted, airplanes taking off, normal life is going on.
This is what happened the other day:
With nothing better to do, one morning while still in bed, I thought about Wasa crisp bread, found in every Swedish home. Oh, I thought, it's dry, it will last and is healthy to boost, perfect should I need to stay at home for a long time.
So I went to Amazon to see if they had it, of course they did.
Then I moved on to another Swedish mainstay, herring. Most of you probably will not understand my love of this marvelous, fatty, fish. In olden days in Sweden, it was said a young woman was not ready to marry until she knew how to prepare, pickle and preserve this wondrous fish in at least 32 different ways.
Swedes are serious about their herring.
There were lots of herrings on Amazon. I was getting more and more excited as I scrolled down the herring column and viewed herring in glass jars and cans.
Then I remembered a fish roe that came in a tube. But I couldn't remember the name. So I scrolled down among all the cans of herrings and then I found it: Kalles Kaviar!
I saw a tube of Kalles Kaviar and I started to cry!
I was suddenly hit by such a nostalgic longing for a time long ago, for Sweden, its lakes, forests, and the archipelago where I spent every summer. I became more and more sentimental as I thought of Stockholm, my home town, with its many islands, ferries, and old steam boats. I thought of medieval churches and cobblestone streets. I missed my family, or more accurately, not having a family of my own. How I longed for that feeling of normalcy and safety.
Did my breakdown of nostalgic longing have something to do with being classified, in corona virus risk terms, as a vulnerable, older individual with two underlying conditions? I'm sure it did.
When I've refused various hard to tolerate medicines, I've often bravely quoted the author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich: "I'm old enough to die." When she said this on the PBS News Hour, she was actually three years younger than I am now.
So I'm thinking, OK, I may be old enough to die, but not like they are dying in Italy and Spain. Not ready for that kind of departure.
I'm usually pretty upbeat, tears may come to my eyes when bad things happens to animals, sad dog eyes in an animal shelter, but I rarely cry, and certainly not over a tub of fish roe.
My meltdown was all about my longing for a safe place. For not being classified as vulnerable, for being a child again with no worries.
Soon after this episode, I was back to normal, happy again here on my little mountain, among my juniper trees, ravens, rabbits and coyotes.
I wanted to share this - you are my friends and that's what happened to me. I wonder - have you noticed strange new behaviors or thoughts creeping into your lives during this time of isolation?
I read Lady Chatterley's Lover and as far as I can remember, I was not impressed.