This is a silly enterprise but I’m enjoying going back through what has happened, in the form of letters I’ve written during lockdown. It is not all pleasant, because sometimes I’m baring raw parts of myself, but it’s amazing how much things change even when you’re standing still.
I can barely remember what it was like at the start of lockdown. How insular it felt. By June I was walking around with a mask and almost entirely unfettered.
To a friend Kyna, my sister, is working at a clinic and tests people who might have the virus. We’re grateful there are not many cases in Alaska. She also cares for patients with other problems… some of which are really bizarre. Speaking of bizarre Alaskans, my brother Kyle recently bought 100 acres on the Chickaloon River and when his work dried up, he went out there and started building a cabin. He must be the least likely person in America to be exposed, because he is so damn far from anything.
To a friend I’d just written a proposal with My dad keeps asking me, “Did your proposal win?” I love him! He is my biggest fan. Or maybe Ramon, but Ramon is more realistic. Ramon says, “Are you going to write more proposals?” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Yes, Ramon, I will write more!
To a friend with a 20-year-old daughter I’ve noticed people @ing me in emails and on facebook, which I don’t understand. In an email, putting @KeriCulver just makes it bold. In Facebook, I guess it “tags” me? But how does that work because there are a dozen Keri Culvers on Facebook. (I know none of them could come close but still…) On Instragram there are always ten hashtags after a post – long weird ones that seem like making a point, not a shared term. Many insta posts say “See link in description” – but I can never find links. HELP!
To a long-lost friend At 10:00 this morning, our water was turned off. We were ready. But I learned a bit about the edges of Ramon’s knowledge. So, we filled our bathtubs to have water for the toilet and for bathing. But his wouldn’t fill… we ended up with just my tub full. But still fine, right?
About noon the water comes back on. So I ran to try filling Ramon’s tub. He had put a jar lid over the drain. Not an actual drain plug, like the one on the edge of the tub. He basically hid the drain under a small piece of metal, but it was of course still operating as a drain. If we ever have a house, I will have to be vigilant. Ramon turns off the gas when he’s done cooking, but apart from that, he does not know how anything in the house works.
But he’s got a cute accent, so I keep him.
June 10 (letters full of memories)
To a friend I met at Lambert Airport in St. Louis. Sioux Passage Park! Wow, that name conjures up memories. My sister and brother went loads of times. Hearing them talk about Sioux Passage meant they were going to hang out with other teenagers which sounded so grown up and cool. One night my sister took me there. They had a bonfire and we roasted marshmallows.
To a friend and former boss Lovely little Tunisia has done a bang-up job with the coronavirus. The prime minister did a town hall early on, pleading for Tunisians to cooperate in staying home for the good of others. A factory-full of workers self-isolated on site to make masks and gowns. Early airport measures started in late January. Essential services worked, only minor internet cuts. Beneficent efforts all around the country to feed people, even take care of the street cats You could see Cap Bon, a jut of land across the bay, when the pollution was gone. Ramadan helped – people were already inclined to stay home.
No new cases for a week now, while Libya and Algeria continue to explode. Things could get scary when the airport opens end of June. Ramon wants to see family in Madrid when their airport opens. His family are doing well; most are working. But the Guardia Civil was hit very hard. One friend passed away. Offices were empty – twenty, thirty, forty people out from a single group. But as far as he knows no more deaths among his buddies.
We went to the beach yesterday and batted around the volleyball. We were burnt and exhausted when we came home – Ramon’s favorite state! Working from home has been fruitful for him but he’s very outgoing and I know he misses his colleagues and partners. But he has been in no hurry to break confinement, either. Seeing how COVID raced through Madrid was scary. He runs and does pushups, even competing with his brother via video. And he watches documentaries – WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam… then back to the Boer War, then Crimea, then back to WWI for another series… I hear the cannons from the other room and I just stay in my office.
To my dad Here’s the link I told you about, on the hedge fund owner who bought newspapers like the Denver Post. The article makes it sound like he’s on track to be the death knell of local reporting.
To my aunt, whose mother was the premier baker and caterer in Eastern Colorado Grandma would be proud of me?!? Thank you – that made me smile. I remember making cinnamon rolls with her. She put me up on the counter to knead the dough. I punched and punched it down…
I’d pick Stacy Abrams for Biden’s running mate. She’s strong and purposeful, dedicated to voting rights. A calm, cool, collected firebrand. The Republican sin is they’d rather disenfranchise Americans than have a fair fight. But she hasn’t held state or national office. How about you? Who would you choose?
June 17 (equestrian letters)
To a friend whose daughter is at horse camp When I was a kid our family was friends with another family, who lived out in the boonies. They had very tame, sweet ol’ horses, which is where I learned to ride. It was low key, about the speed of the tourist horses in Mexico or trail horses in the West. So I thought I could “ride,” till a few years ago when I went to Argentina and Uruguay for vacation. I stayed at a working hacienda a couple hours north of Montevideo. We rode with honest-to-god Gauchos, these craggy older fellows with big soft berets and pants that were not far off from what we called “gauchos” when I was in elementary school.
There, I actually galloped. It was absolutely terrifying and absolutely thrilling. As the trot got faster and faster I really thought I would fall off. The other horses had started to gallop, and you know how these tourist horses are – they do what their peers do, according to a schedule they’ve been doing ever since they hit the tourist trail, especially with a rookie like me “leading” them.
But as soon as the real galloping started, it became smooth and perfect – I wasn’t scared anymore – I can still hear those hoofbeats and feel that rocking that was rhythmic but not threatening, unlike the trotting misery. I was whooping and nearly in tears, saying things out loud that only the gaucho riding next to me could hear. Later, he was laughing so hard he cried, as he told the gauchos and guests what I had said. I don’t remember my exact words but I think Promises Were Made in those moments just before the gallop started, when I was pretty sure I was about to croak, and then maybe I spoke in tongues once I was galloping?
To my dad, who asked my advice (whoa!) on writing sensitive letters What if you told her about a specific time when choosing sides led to pain and suffering? Like, “I once sided with Carol over what Ethelyn wanted to do, and it ended up awful. After all, I live with Ethelyn!” Or whatever.
If you sided with one of your kids against another, we would be resentful and distrustful, and it would have long-lasting effects. That is another angle you could try: say that even if she thinks she is on the right side, in fact even if she IS on the right side, there are consequences.
To a friend/colleague who’s been busier than me In the first days of lockdown I finished all the tasks on my to-do list, including ones that had been there a couple years or more. Then, things got ugly.
To a friend It’s HOT! Lots of people at the beach: very inviting but when you go, you get covered in sand and salt and sunscreen and more sand, like an ice cream bar. It’s lovely, but once a week is plenty! I call Tunis “the New Zealand of North Africa”: it is amazing what the country has accomplished during the coronavirus. But of course the airport has just opened… I was going to go to Spain with Ramon but my passport makes me persona non grata!