Evidence of greater possibilities in the development of a greener reality

Dispatch from Evelyn by Evelyn Frances

Every morning I sit on the floor in the sun that streams through our kitchen window with
my dog while I read and drink coffee. This is my new, quarantine ritual. I read for two hours and
watch my dog sleep and breathe. I hear the sounds of my boyfriend typing in the other room. I
hear so many birds chattering to each other in rhythmic calls that I had never heard before, over
the noise of cars, planes, and construction. Maybe they can finally hear each other, too. The
breeze through the window smells like the sea, which I have never smelled in New York in the 5
years I have lived here. What a gift! We live in Brooklyn and two blocks away is a hospital that
has two refrigerated trucks outside. Two blocks away is a completely different world. And here I
am, contemplating. How privileged it is, to contemplate.
I am very lucky and grateful for this time to experience life more slowly and thoughtfully.
I get to pretend that I am living the life I have always wanted to live, in which I can work on
music, read, listen, take care of myself, take my dog for long, slow walks with my boyfriend, be
more politically active and informed, and sit quietly for as much of the day as I want. I know that
not everyone is this lucky right now and many are suffering, ill, and grieving over the loss of
loved ones. I know that my comfort and ease right now is not helping anyone, but myself. I feel
guilty because of this.
I was working at a restaurant in Tribeca before all of this and felt like I never had the time
to work on my music as much as I would have liked. I didn’t have enough time to really take
care of myself or my relationship. I didn’t have the time, space, or quietude to actually listen,
learn, and absorb much of anything. I didn’t have the time to get full, healing sleep every night. I
wasn’t making enough money to pay off my debts from recording my last album, my student
loans, and my bills and was constantly in a state of obsessive stress over one day being debt-free.
I am very lucky that I was able to get through to the Department of Labor in the third
week of my unemployment, unlike many people who are still unable to get through to them. I am
now collecting unemployment money every week that is more than I was making when I was
employed. I have been making large payments toward my debts with the money, while still
being able to save extra. I almost have the album debt paid off and one of my student loans
paid off. I am halfway through writing my next record. I feel more stable and more productive
than I ever have, and yet, all around me is instability, fear, and sadness. Some front line
workers aren’t making as much money as I am right now. I feel guilty because of this.
Yes, I have been connecting with friends, family, and neighbors to make sure everyone
is ok and to see if anyone needs anything. Yes, I am clapping for essential workers every night
at 7pm out my window. I am gardening in our backyard with my building neighbors (socially
distantly, of course) to help feed us and connect us through the Summer. I am volunteering to
call families in my community to see if they need help and to inform them about the upcoming
election. I feel more connected to my neighbors and my community than ever, but I still feel
guilty.
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed an incredibly broken system in every way, but has
allowed a time of pause for our earth and for all of us to reevaluate our structures, our political
systems, habits of living, and to be grateful for one another. I worry that once this is “over”
everyone will be scrambling to get back to the way things were and forget. I worry that the birds
will once more be drowned out by the planes and cars and busy-ness. I worry that the sea air
will fade without notice. We need to carry this gratitude and care with us. We cannot forget.
Do we need to travel so much, or can we continue to be innovative in how we work
together using technology (fueled by clean energy), instead of oil? Can we care for and notice
the land around us, so that it can thrive and give back to us, instead of traveling to paradise
destinations that we then pollute with our sunscreens, plastic bottles, and our “look at me I’m so
cultured” pictures? Can we be more politically active in the things we care about and actually
talk to the people making decisions for us, instead of just posting about them and preaching to
people that already agree with us? Can we give all workers a wage, benefits, and the care they
need to feel heard and appreciated? Can we realize that this country was built by (and still runs
on) the people that our current president is trying to silence and get rid of and treat them with
the utmost respect? Can we have a health care system that doesn’t scare us from seeking the
help we need? Can we have people running for office that don’t have ANY sexual assault
allegations against them? Can we feel absolutely free knowing that we don’t need another
thing?

Evelyn Frances is a musician, songwriter, and yoga teacher living in Brooklyn, NY.

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