It’s the last week in October and there are bones everywhere.
Through some fucked up cosmic lottery that I won, the bones in my neighborhood are plastic, purchased at Target or Michael’s or Home Depot. One block is trying to outdo each other with skeletons in wacky positions; someone has an adult-sized skeleton pushing a tiny skeleton in an old stroller. I think about everything I’ve read about babies in Israel and Gaza in the last three weeks and I almost can’t bear to walk down the street.
This moment comes as I’m doing what I am told is called “logging off,” where you put your phone away — better yet, throw it into the sea — and focus on family, on community, on your mental health, on the things you can change instead of an endless cycle of insults, flag emojis and name-calling.
But honestly, there is no logging off.
Not for people directly impacted by the war in Israel and Gaza, of course, but not for any of us either.
When I pick my 9-month-old baby up from her crib and she looks directly into my eyes, even then I can’t log off. There’s so much trust staring back at me. Trust is all she knows how to do. I’m looking at her, but the baby from the hostage poster is staring back at me. The babies whose pictures are blurred with warnings that say “this image might contain graphic depictions” are staring back at me. They all thought they could trust the world as they were yanked from their homes or their homes crumbled down around them.
Later, when I’m changing her, I sing my baby a random ‘90s one-hit-wonder that pops into my head. Look around your world pretty baby, is it everything you hoped it would be? What a stupid question, I think.
I’m in a parking garage putting groceries in my trunk when it thunders, the kind of thunder that’s so loud and sudden that it even startles my infant who has no concept of thunder. The words roll off my tongue without thinking: It’s just thunder. It’s OK. It can’t hurt you. I flinch as I hear myself, as I think about all the times I’ve taken for granted how lucky I am to live in a place where my first reaction to a loud noise from the sky isn’t fear.
I haven’t looked at my phone in hours, but there is no logging off.