I love this opening shot of the short Glimmers Of Light of a character who hasn’t left his home in six months after a panic attack. It screened during our first virtual festival in 2020, and I thought it would resonate strongly with viewers during the pandemic, though I think it was a little sadly overlooked. It’s a low-key but effective film—Chicago had a stay-at-home order at one point and I even remember being comforted by having the same meal every day, eggs and bacon and sometimes pancakes, which I often ordered online. I’m not sure it’s fair to say I’ve developed full-blown agoraphobia since that time. However, I definitely have developed much more anxiety about leaving my home, and not even due to fear of illness. I just know the world out there is unpredictable and sometimes painful, and I can’t control it and program it according to routine. I’ve grown so much more comfortable with solitude, some might say too comfortable.
I decided to take some vacation around my birthday this year, and as usual on my “vacations” now, made a huge to-do list and only chipped away at it. I kind of went off the grid for the most part to try to get things done and work on myself. This wasn’t too much different than my norm recently as I’ve mostly been “off the grid” anyway due to busy-ness and my overprogrammed life and some of that lingering social anxiety. I worked a little more on the festival, but I would have preferred to do more. I kept up with my summer school homework and cleaned and organized a bit, but not as much as I wanted to. I taught myself how to sew – badly. I need to perfect it, but I think I have the basics down. I worked a bit on art and especially learning how to print on products with a new color printer I bought, but realized I needed some more supplies to do it right.
I think the best parts of my little staycation were when I was actually pulled a bit out of my comfort zone. My 40th birthday was in 2020, so that landmark was spent at home, alone, with cats. However, my best friend Jim sent me a pizza that day, and this year he took me out in person. It was pretty low-key; he asked what I wanted to do, and I decided on something I hadn’t done in a long time that I’d dearly missed, going to an estate sale. We found one in Logan Square that was pretty modest and tame, but that’s where I picked up the color printer, plus a few other little treasures, because I always manage to find some. While we were there we had brunch at Bang Bang! Biscuits & Pie which I had also dearly missed because the location near me closed, and their made-from-scratch biscuits and pie were just as tasty as I remembered, and it was gorgeous weather to eat on their patio. Finally, we walked down the beach to view the “World of Tomorrow” community murals in Rogers Park, which were really colorful and fun. It was a lovely day.
Then over the weekend I got an unexpected call from a friend, and I could tell she really needed my help. I’ve gotten enough support from people over the years that I feel it’s truly my time to give back whenever I can when someone is feeling down. We ended up going to an art gallery and though I was definitely anxious and hesitant, the people at the gallery were so friendly and fun, the art was so interesting, and there was overall such a positive vibe that I let down my guard, laughed, and even danced a bit. The next day I even responded to a brunch invite from some dear friends I hadn’t seen in too long. It was hard to say no since it was another beautiful day weather-wise, it was right down the street, and I missed them. Nothing bad happened that time either – they treated me just as if no time had passed at all, and it kind of felt like it hadn’t.
Of course, bad things do sometimes happen—that’s the inevitable risk we take for interacting with the world and not living in a cabin in Norway. People are fallible, they all have their idiosyncrasies, and as hard as we try, we’re sometimes going to make mistakes and get hurt. As I said recently on a podcast, “Life is hard and often painful. But what else is there?”