I spent yesterday like a hamster in a wheel picking up more shingles and debris in the yard. It’s an endless task much like a dog chasing it’s tail. If I ever catch up I won’t know what to do with myself. I’ll have to roll the magnet across the yard again for roofing nails before another run of the mower. I picked up a little more than I’d planned while hunched over the drain on the corner thanks to a kind gesture by a passerby.

I’ve only recently seen a return of the walkers and joggers because a fourth pass of the debris trucks has mostly cleared the sidewalks. What’s left are all of the tiny bits of garbage in every form scattered about in the tall grass. I live on a fairly busy corner so I’m constantly stopping and stooping when cars blow by just to be sure my butt isn’t straight up in the air in an obnoxious way. I take more time than I should repositioning and checking myself lest some of my own little bits pop out where they shouldn’t and stop traffic where it already should. I see the joggers coming and fuss at the cars that are supposed to stop but don’t. There isn’t much of an exchange usually and especially not when I’m in a piss poor mood post pandemic, two hurricanes, and a polarizing election because I’m certainly not initiating the pleasantries. I’d prefer lately to keep to myself because keeping it together has proven to be difficult most days. An unfamiliar jogger surprised me as he passed. I’d already stood and turned my butt the other way BUT HE SPOKE. It was brief, but he saw me. “Lookin’ good!” He said. Sweaty and stumped, I mumbled a thanks.

That little acknowledgement meant a lot. I swear there’s no way that he could tell any difference but he threw out a little pick me up when he saw me picking up. I do a lot of that now. It’s practically all I do. I have no staff for the time being so most of my time is just spent with the necessary maintenance and upkeep of floors and trash. I’d never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself so the cleaning doesn’t bother me in fact it’s my “thing” that I say when I hire new student workers to prepare them for whatever duties come with their job. I’ve been kind of an invisible presence just keeping the place going behind the scenes. I’ve figured out what bothers me about it all; I feel too often lately like I’m not being seen or heard. Most people aren’t sloppy by nature but the few who are stand out amongst the rest. In public spaces, someone has to come along and tidy up though. When someone throws trash on the floor, there’s always someone who has to come along behind them. I’ve seen messes that should never be left BEHIND for others to endure when a simple flush would DOO.

I send emails and leave messages for adjusters hoping for responses daily and rarely hear anything back. I’m not being heard, and what I’m doing isn’t being seen, and it’s all maddening. I equate my current situation to asking a kid to do something over and over and over and over again only to be ignored until I erupt and lose my mind in such a way that someone can’t help but notice only I’m so far off the scales that my sanity is questioned and the looks I get could only mean that horns have sprouted from my head.

Even people beyond our little corner of the state and out of the eye of the storm so to speak are enduring something similar right now. There’s been a helluva storm on the political plains and some can’t even see far enough on the horizon to be assured that the sun will rise and fall again. People feel like they aren’t being heard. Maybe none of us are listening like we should. Social media appears to be taking up in different camps with a mass exodus into newer platforms because neither side wants to HEAR or LISTEN to the other enough to keep any sort of civil dialogue going. It sometimes feels like this country is splitting down the middle like the stately oaks I looked at daily piled on either side of the road. Both the right and left sides are full of debris, and it’ll take a lot of tedious work to clean up this mess.

Mr. Jogger passed back by as I’d pondered all of this mess, and he offered some encouragement again. “Keep it up! It already looks better!” Rather than let the opportunity to pass me by again I thanked him. “HEY!” I said. “Thanks for that! You came along when I needed to hear that most.” He seemed glad to hear my acknowledgment. Maybe he does that all the time and doesn’t really think about it. I wanted him to know that he’d been heard though, and he made a difference for me at least for a short time. So tomorrow I’ll do it all over again. Maybe I’ll be heard and maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll pretend that being invisible is my new superpower if so. Maybe someone will read this and relate. Maybe 2020 will be the year that we all got tossed around and beat up and broken down enough that we have to stop and listen and communicate in order to work together and rebuild something strong and lovely that’ll last.