by Kate Nixon
Editor’s note: this author is well aware that the effects of the Covid pandemic will vary from person to person, some folks unfortunately have had it so much worse. This is just one of the many experiences out there and I do not mean any offense in writing about my account. The message at the end serves to remind us even in the middle of sickness, even when navigating both the physical and mental storm, there is always something to get out of bed for.
During the first week of 2022, Bruce used this space to publish his reassurance to our conference-going public that we intended to stand firm on our dedication to hold our annual Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn. “The Storm Will Pass” outlined our plan to keep our staff, exhibitors, attendees and show shoppers safe during that rapidly changing week and despite the whiplash of local social policy that happened that very week, the general public and a large group of attendees were able to shop our annual show, visit and discuss a wide variety of topics with each other, and view brand new educational seminars while wearing masks. There were so many feelings associated with that weekend, but by far the most prominent was joy at seeing the masked collectors I knew chat with each other again and watching that impressively long winding line for the Friday show, knowing that our exhibitors who battled the weather and the labor of setting up their booths with their masks on would be rewarded. That time was five months ago, but for all the joy it gave me, it might as well have been last month.
Those memories came rushing back to me as I looked at the positive result on my at-home Covid test. I’m writing this now safely back in the office a month after the fact, but I vividly remember the frustration of a positive Covid-19 test after enduring a night of coughing, sneezing and feeling a deep plunge in energy thanks to a total lack of sleep. It is an upsetting thing when sickness knocks your body back, but worse when your mind still wants to run through the large “to-do” list in your mind like a non-stop teleprompter.
And then self care takes over as the number one priority: the body doesn’t give you much of a choice. The teleprompter in my head slowly moved its way into the back of my mind as I took time to consider reading the books making a rising pile on my bedside table. The taste of daily hot coffee was replaced by honey and lemon syrup inside cough drops and Traditional Medicinal Throat coat tea. My mind would, from time to time, turn to the ridiculous as I try to write a play about George Ohr in my head and if it weren’t for the brain fog, I would have written four chapters already.
It was a few days into the unwanted visitor’s stay that I lost my sense of smell. I had previously heard that was a common symptom and back in 2020, I kept a candle by my bed to smell every night to reassure myself that I was fine. After smelling the candle and coming up with nothing, I reached out to friends and family, hoping for a tip. Through my family, I found out about olfactory training: a helpful exercise to connect the memory of smell and the scent of the object itself. Simply take four strong scents, like lemon juice, lavender, clove and eucalyptus and smell them for 20 seconds each day while you concentrate on the memory of that smell. Some days, it would be a weak scent, but it would be a vast improvement over no smell at all.
Thankfully, the joyful smell of lemon juice finally returned to my relief after two weeks. The energy levels took a little longer.
Every night, remembering the joyful view of the excited collectors in line and the folks who joined me via Zoom last year – and will return in August! – would float back into my mind and it would help me focus on my goal of getting back to the office. That wacky image of George Ohr (you know the one) was also good for a laugh and would serve as a reminder to keep going.
There would be days where I couldn’t write or couldn’t keep track of the to-do list in my mind. However, we are a community, voracious for new stories, new information, and new additions for our collections. All it took was that image of collectors in that Friday afternoon line at GPI, the image of seeing a favorite artist over Zoom, and grabbing a book of my bedside table to remind myself there are conferences to hold, stories to write, and people to laugh with when I eventually left my apartment.
And this picture to laugh at.