A year ago as the news of the Coronavirus and the official lockdown began in San Francisco, I remember sobbing at my friend’s kitchen table, terrified of the impending isolation ahead. Through tears I attempted to tell her that she would be okay, she was married and had someone around, and that I doubted I could survive. I only had myself, a single woman, living alone who was self-employed and recently moved to a much more expensive apartment out of the city. Did I suddenly miss my chance for so many things I hadn’t experienced yet? Was I doomed to singledom and boredom for the rest of eternity? Would I ever have sex again? What would happen to me in this uncertainty? More importantly, was I capable of caring for myself during such intensity?
I have a horrible memory from March last year of standing in a crowded grocery store with almost empty shelves waiting for my survival instinct to kick in. Wondering which foods to purchase and wandering around for hours in complete overwhelm and confusion. I finally left with bananas and some canned beans and cried in the parking lot unsure if I could figure out how to feed myself with what I had in my fridge and pantry. This unraveling wasn’t new to me, but it felt bigger than I knew what to do with.
Two years ago and one year before shelter-in-place began, I seemed to be having the opposite of a glow-up and was underworld deep in depression. In March of 2019, my physical health was drastically and mysteriously declining — I lost 20 pounds in a month and my immune system stopped working. Most of the time I was so exhausted that I could barely move and was so nauseated I couldn’t eat. My days were spent in doctors’ offices and sorting through medical bills and my nights spent crying and grappling with if I even wanted to be alive. I was terrified and lonely, fighting off the inevitable existential dread of existing in human form. I grieved not knowing when my body would be healthy enough to step into the world again or when I would see people I love without wishing to be home in bed instead.
I remember yearning for the entire world to pause with me…and then it did when the pandemic hit—or panoramic as the cool kids on Tik Tok call it. I felt momentary relief for others to join me in the cocoon. Eagerness overtook me as I realized I would no longer wonder what I was missing and could focus even more on my healing journey without distractions. My imagination moved towards a collective vision and my part in it, but it still didn’t turn out as I imagined.
This year has been more devastating and beautiful than anyone could have predicted — and as an astrologer, many of us knew it would be weird. My heart aches for all the lives lost and the sadness of wondering if and when any and all of us can be safe from the virus, white supremacy, climate change, and financial instability. Holding personal contentment with the collective discontent has become a daily practice. Sometimes I would spend hours arguing online and even creating a sacred rage ritual for myself — kicking a pillow around my apartment and then meditating.
And I suppose I lost a lot as well, such as some hope — that sounds dramatic — and a part-time job that I adored and also gave me healthcare benefits. My health still struggling I spent most of my uninsured time and money on vitamin C IVs. I had a few friend breakups as the relationships where I found myself walking on eggshells finally crumbled some after a decade. I watched those around me couple up and saw relationships move forward and I stayed unpartnered, unhealthy, and still not dating.
As the months dragged on through 2020 with the bouts of devastation and depression, my joys became the simplicity I didn’t expect. Such as watching the hummingbirds at my feeder — and watching my cats watching the hummingbirds at my feeder. Driving to my favorite coffee shop and sitting in the sun watching Tik Tok videos and laughing to myself. Taking hour-long walks alone almost every day in the woods near my apartment. Playing relaxing music to my plants and spending a lot of time at the mailbox chatting with neighbors.
Being a late bloomer isn’t fun until it finally happens. And for whatever weird reason my blossoming occurred during a worldwide lockdown. I suppose I’m fortunate it didn’t happen when I was 18 or even 35 for that matter, but this was a very pleasant pandemic surprise. After a seemingly endless two-year rollercoaster, I suddenly peaked.
Somehow my life started to feel manageable again, and slowly but surely my health and happiness improved. My body stopped endlessly aching and I gained back the weight I lost. The helplessness I felt about the collective inequities that the pandemic highlighted motivated me to get involved in several anti-racism local and national groups rather than just post things on social media. The six years building my business finally paid off and I was busier than ever and grateful to pay my rent and feed myself without my part-time job for support.
I had an almost weekly call with a few close friends on Zoom on Friday evenings. Saturday afternoons were for lounging on my couch reading and cuddling with my cats. Sunday evenings were my family FT calls where we spent far too much time talking about what we were watching online and our pets. The occasional walk with a friend would nourish me for a week after and watching my herb garden grow on my deck while I ate my breakfast was my main pleasure.
A part of me wanted a pandemic love story — and I fell in love, many times over and over again this past year. I built incredible connections with a few close friends as our intimacy deepened. I adopted a new kitty and grew to appreciate the “unintentional” community I found with my neighbors who often traded meals and checked in on each other. I had a few romantic flings that went nowhere but opened my heart and I learned a lot. Getting to see my parents' and sister’s faces on my iPhone rather than just a random phone call brought such sweetness to our family dynamic.
And as things begin opening up and I eagerly await my turn for a vaccine, I’m struck by the glow-up that happened behind closed doors. In fact, I’m a bit in awe of the woman I have become when no one was looking. And while I didn’t lose a bunch of weight or get into perfect shape (rhyme intentional), I transformed drastically in my COVID-19 cocoon. My confidence rooted in how well I’ve trusted myself this past year and I find myself caring very little what others think of me for the first time in my entire life. The anger I’ve felt this year has anchored into a passion and my emotional vulnerability transformed into a superpower rather than fragility.
On a more superficial note, most of my wardrobe now consists of comfortable, stylish leisure wear with a few statement pieces of jewelry. While I still don’t understand how to use makeup, my skincare routine has become impeccable. I feel shiny and more comfortable showing all parts of me…the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.
Sometimes I cry at my own kitchen table — rather than my friend’s — though the messiness and joy coexist in a way never before. And speaking of my kitchen, I actually cook now and my apartment looks absolutely stunning thanks to my constant nesting. (Though the photo above certainly looks a bit messy.);) My relationship with myself continues to be nourished by stronger meditation practice and more spaciousness in my schedule to explore my feelings. I don’t have the energy for pretending or pleasantries and find myself hiding less and less behind my niceness and codependency patterns.
I radiate differently now, the blossoming that occurred took time and made possible by the lockdown. For an entire year, I orbited only myself — and my cats — and it paid off. Several studies have pointed to single, childless women being the happiest demographic and for the first time in my life, I believe it. Perhaps I have been peaking all along and just didn’t notice until the pandemic. Or maybe the rollercoaster of this year finally allowed me to see the view from the top. I had to go really far down to glow-up and that is what I will remember most about this pandemic/panoramic.