Are there any circumstances in which an engagement ring could be classed as an “essential” service?
It’s one of the many things that’s been worrying me during the pandemic lockdown as I plan my marriage to the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Yes, I know that I am very far down the line in a long queue, but a girl can dream.
Come on, be honest: how many of you, during the past few months, have Googled ‘Is Andrew Cuomo single’? Or ‘Is Andrew Cuomo straight’? Or even ‘Does Andrew Cuomo like short Welsh women who have their own Green Card’? (Just me on that one, then). Every day, the ever-increasing fan club sits in front of TV screens to be soothed and comforted by the one person who appears to have a grip on what’s really going on.
The New York Governor (and I am so proud to be living in this state with my fiancé – no, he doesn’t know it yet; minor detail) has captured not only the state’s, but many of the country’s hearts. He is smart, knowledgeable, unfazed when we are all on the precipice of hysteria, empathetic, sympathetic, genuinely caring – he is, in short, everything a President should be. It’s just a shame that he’s not. But at least he’s there. For us.
These are frightening times. I am one of the lucky ones. I was very ill at the beginning of the year (there is now research suggesting the virus is older than it looks – unlike my fiancé; yes, I Googled ‘How old is Andrew Cuomo?’ too); I was ill again in March, despite not having had so much of a cold since May 1999 (brought on by stress from the guy I was dating – he is SUCH old news, now I have Andrew).
But after several months of extreme fatigue, bordering on narcolepsy, I am fine. At present, I still have a job, and I work from home, which I have never found difficult. I am fine in my own company; I talk to friends on the phone and on various social networking sites; I have fun on my YouTube channel, Jaci’s Box (please subscribe); I read, I catch up on TV . . . I’m probably busier than I’ve ever been. How will I ever find time to plan the wedding? That’s the thing that’s really stressing me out.
My heart goes out to the sick and the bereaved. Two of my friends have just lost their mothers and were denied the chance to see them during their last days and hold their funerals; another friend who lost her father was allowed just six people at his funeral. Having lost my mother last year, I cannot imagine how much more painful it would have been had my brother and I been denied those last days and the comfort of family and friends around us.
I feel for those who have lost their jobs in so many ways. I have actor friends who have lost not only their main job but their secondary ones serving in bars and restaurants. For those in the travel and hospitality industries, life has come to a standstill. So many jobless people have families to feed, disabled relatives to take care of . . . Conrad’s final sentence – “The horror! The horror!” – in Heart of Darkness (albeit for different reasons in the novel) never seemed more appropriate.
It’s the lack of an ending that is most disturbing. We are creatures of narrative; we enjoy a beginning, middle and an end, hence the popularity of fiction, whether it be in books or on the screen. We spend time second guessing the motivation of character and the outcome of plot; even though soap operas are ongoing, storylines are designed to build suspense and high drama before reaching their inevitable conclusions.
Every day brings news of more Coronavirus cases, more deaths, optimism followed by despair, currency boosts followed by downward turns; we have no ending in sight; the plot thickens – and thickens. Despite talk of lights at the end of the tunnel, there are days when those lights seem nothing more than those of another freight train coming towards us. We are blinded by the lack of light.
What do we do?
We carry on. Because we are human. Because there is no alternative. The clichés roll off our tongues – “It is what it is”, “What will be will be”, “You never know what’s around the corner”.
And so, we must look to the light in the tunnel, not at the end of it; at present, that is all we know. We take refuge and joy in the arts – and if ever there was a time to count our blessings in the creativity of writers, musicians, painters, every artist in every field, this is it.
We must also give thanks for the light that shines more brightly than any other – that of our health care workers, putting their lives on the front line every day to save others. I could never do it; I do not know how anyone does. Many have lost their lives so that the sick can be healed; I know of no greater sacrifice.
We must also be grateful, in our dark tunnel, for the light of the rational Governor Cuomo, whose press conferences (though no longer daily) are still like a meditative space that keeps panic at bay (just). His brother, Chris, who is an anchor at CNN, contracted the virus (he recovered) and the pair briefly entertained us in their online exchanges, to much unjustified criticism. Chris also appeared in a moving interview on the entertainment channel TMZ, which has also been a beacon of good sense: presenter Harvey Levin, who warned of the dangers very early on, is exceptional.
We really are all in this together, including the queue that has gathered around my fiancé – Hey! Six feet apart, people! Six miles, if I had my way! – who has emerged a real hero for our times. Let’s just hope he’s stocked up on Clorox for our first dance at our wedding reception, as I still won’t be taking any risks.
Yes, of course I’m thinking ahead.
What about when the pandemic is over, and I’ll have the worry if Andrew decides to run for President (as his brother and many have suggested) and I end up as First Lady? I’ll have to put make-up on every day. I’m also not sure I want to be gathering up my husband’s brains from the back seat of a car when he’s assassinated. Will there be Clorox in the glove compartment?
Sometimes, I think I worry too much.