I’m almost over bringing up The Pandemic in every conversation—almost. I suppose those of us who’ve lived through it will always look on our lives as before-and-after The Pandemic. This cataclysm is a Russian nesting doll that has revealed many other cataclysms beneath. We’ve been shaken on every level: social, racial, political, environmental. I could spend hours discussing these things. Yet I only have a moment on this page with you, so I’ll use it to share something simple and personal about a change the pandemic has wrought in me:
I’ve taken Myers-Briggs personality assessments a few times, both official and knock-off versions, and almost always test as an extrovert, but that’s because these tests insist on bilateral options, that you’re either one thing or its opposite. My test typically lands on 51% extrovert, 49% introvert. But one time the numbers flipped. I’ve come to realize I’m an ambivert: equally extrovert and introvert. The pandemic revealed my introversion even more.
I’ve never felt only one way about anything, especially the idea of alone versus together. Sometimes I feel energized by others and deprived when alone. Other times I feel overwhelmed by others and replenished by time alone. Wherever I am—in a city or in nature, at home or at a party, in a crowd or with one person—I’m as likely to feel centered and engaged as to feel isolated and restless.
For better or worse, the pandemic has shown us a lot about ourselves and each other. It has cracked open unexpected fissures between people. But then others have filled those gaps by pouring in unexpected kindness. Many have lost loved ones, become mistrustful, exploded into violence. Yet one of my neighbors has made hundreds of masks for health care workers, my dance community has performed a Charleston routine together on the beach, and when one Zoom support group didn’t work out another invited me in.
This pandemic, by keeping me close to home, has sent me on a journey into myself. I’ve learned even more about myself than I did on my yearlong solo trek around the world. I don’t take for granted that having time for such reflection is a privilege. Although I won’t emerge from the pandemic unscathed, I’m lucky. My husband and I are blessed with each other, our home, our health, a support network, and sustaining work.
All this is preface to tell you, I’ve made a commitment to spend more private, at-home, alone time, to complete a project I’ve invested myself in for years. I’m revising the first of two novels inspired by the family history of my Mexican-Chinese American grandma. If I say no to extroverted activities more than usual, it’s because I’m saying a resounding yes to this. This tale of immigrants and their mixed-race offspring is both unique and quintessentially American. I’m determined to find its soul and share its gifts.
Some of you have heard about this novel for a long time. What can I say? Some stories are harder to tell than others. I have faith this vision is worth it. A book is an intimate conversation between writer and reader, and I’m excited for us to get to know each other on those pages.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep sharing smaller stories at storytelling shows and in literary journals. For more on where to find my writing or performances, please keep an eye on my Events page, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Whether on Zoom, on the page, or in person, I hope we connect soon.
Thank you for supporting stories!