Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Ever since I was a child I promised myself that I would grow up to have better birthdays. I promised myself I would always do my best to be safe and happy and healthy for my special day.
This year, with my birthday on a weekday and knowing that this year’s celebration needed to be safe, the first plan was to have Venezia’s pizza at home with bae when he was off the following weekend. Which we did. But Wednesday afternoon after I dropped him off at work I started to get anxious.
I got my free birthday tea which always helps me center myself, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed an adventure. It was a feeling which I, and you too probably, have ignored since the beginning of the pandemic.
I had already done my basic makeup for the day. And, so, the idea surfaced. I texted my sister-friend Hannah Manuelito to do an impromptu birthday photoshoot. She was just getting off work and said she was down to shoot. My sister-friend Yolie, a 10+ year MAC makeup artist called me soon after and told me she wanted to gift me a makeover as my present. I began to get so excited.
I went to work cleansing and “Lysoling” my place. A couple hours later, with masks and as much distance between us when possible, the adventure began. With Hannah's light magic and Yolie's make up magic, I felt so beautiful and surrounded by love. It was immensely relieving to be around my sister-friends again. Not having seen my mom, my sisters, my nieces, or ANY family members in 15 months, I was oxytocin and estrogen deprived. As much as I love my honey, there’s nothing like laughing with your sisters or a big hug from mom or auntie. The 2020 holiday season depression was REAL. I tried to be proactive: eat healthy, work out, tele-counseling, etc. But the loneliness was starting to take me to darker and darker places.
I know there are folx out there who are very critical of how others conduct themselves during the pandemic. Sometimes rightfully so. But not everyone has lived with family for a large portion of the pandemic. Many of us have gone weeks or months without hugs and love and laughter. Many of us have gone days or weeks without seeing another human being. After 10 months into the pandemic, an affectionate introvert like me needed that laughter and close(r)ness. The weight I carried began to feel like emotional neglect to the point where it physically hurt. I started getting more worn out (yes, just being at home) and had more fibromyalgia and endometriosis flare ups triggered from stress and depression.
Here’s the thing: COVID-19 is very serious and deadly and should be taken very seriously. Depression is also very serious and deadly and should be take very seriously. There were several times where I had to make the difficult decision of taking a risk of my physical health to minimize the risk of going bat shit crazy, of hurting myself.
Everyone’s comfort zone is different. For me, setting up a “pandemic pod” has been essential to my mental and physical well-being and survival over the last year. My sisters and I all kept in touch after the shoot, and, thankfully, none of this activity resulted in illness. I am so grateful that I can do the best I can to keep others around me safe. I am so grateful to still be here and have completed another solar return. I am so grateful that you are here reading this. Be safe, be you. I love you all. Bilahe'k: Thank you for all the birthday wishes and love sent.