The year 2020, along with the first month of 2021, has been momentous for many of us. I am trying to serve my high school students – both in-person and remote – as best I can in a “mask encouraged” environment in which very few wear masks. I am happy, after November, to have survived a moderate case of COVID. Meanwhile, I am working to renovate an over 100-year-old Craftsman-style house and just completed 9 of 36 hours for an Ed.S. degree in educational leadership. Staying busy gives me meaning until I can travel widely again.
Lately, almost every week, it seems, I hear of the illness or passing of someone I know or with whom I have been acquainted. Often, it is COVID-related, but sometimes it is not. Corinth has recently lost some people who have long been pillars of the community in shaping it to what it has become today.
If we zoom out a bit beyond the local realm, we have also experienced events that set a precedent from the past. We have a former president who has now been impeached not only once but twice – in the midst of an election contested by some members of the populace, who vehemently believed that somehow he would remain in office.
For me, a series of weighty events in my life culminated back in the fall, early on the morning of Saturday, November 7. I had been sick with COVID for exactly one week. On Monday, November 2, I had visited a local clinic in order to get a rapid test, which was negative. On Friday, November 6, I woke, showered, dressed, and drove – with a 101-degree fever to the health department in nearby McNairy County to get a drive-thru COVID PCR test.
That next morning, on Saturday, I slept until almost 11 a.m. When I awoke, I looked at my phone and saw that I had missed a call from the health department. I knew exactly what that missed call meant. Shortly, thereafter, I called back, to discover what I already knew in the midst of symptoms and direct exposure to the virus: I was positive for COVID-19.
I lingered there in bed, in the quiet of the morning, on day 14 of my quarantine, and I thought about recent events. Two weeks earlier, I had driven, along with my mom, to Tupelo to visit the mother of one of my best childhood friends after doctors discovered her cancer of seven years had returned and she probably wouldn’t be alive more than two weeks. Six nights, earlier, I had driven my boyfriend Tom to the emergency room, after he had been sick for two weeks and didn’t seem to be getting better, and obtained his prognosis: COVID pneumonia. Fortunately, he began improving not long thereafter. Four nights earlier, Tom and I had stayed up until 3:00 a.m., watching election returns in the nail-biter of the 2020 presidential election.
Now I had COVID, the dreaded virus. We might not know who was president for quite some time, we had been told by journalists covering the election. Next, I picked up my phone and discovered that, only days later, we had a pretty good idea. Electoral votes had been called for Joe Biden. I felt a twinge of that elation I felt back in 1992, the first year I was of voting age and could cast my vote in that year of “hope.” Hints of Fleetwood Mac’s lyrics “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow” played in my head. I felt like we were once again, perhaps, “on the pulse of morning,” to allude to a prior inaugural verse.
It didn’t take long, however, for some of my elation to dissipate. I also discovered by perusing social media posts on my phone that Jo, my friend Mindi’s mother, had died that morning, exactly two weeks from the time I visited her in what I knew would be our last time together. At that moment, it felt as though a part of my childhood was gone. Ironically, as I sit here writing, today would have been her birthday.
It seems as if, somehow, since that weekend, so much has been happening. I have come to the place where I am almost not surprised by any singular event or chain of events. Subsequently, I survived the virus, although others I know have passed, and we have now witnessed a peaceful transition to a new president and, for the first time, a vice president who is a woman of color. When we consider the greater reach of all events, both national and local, we are living in memorable and historic times.
This past week, a person that I admired passed. I met James “Sonny” Boatman by becoming directly involved in Corinth Theatre-Arts in 2005, when, in January, I performed as Cherie in Bus Stop, and Sonny was on the board of directors. Later, beginning in 2012, I began serving on the CT-A board with Sonny, and in 2013, I moved into a Cruise Street apartment above the Corinth Artist Guild Gallery, which Sonny managed. I was comforted by our regular exchanges, and I won’t forget the distinctive sound of Sonny’s voice and his smile. He was wise, artistic, compassionate, and eclectic in his interests. If there is an art gallery or community theater anywhere in the ethereal realm, you can bet that Sonny will be involved in some way. What a great loss to Corinth.
As I reflect on my thoughts about these events, I’m hoping that 2021 can be somehow less momentous. I’d be happy to have some time where nothing or very little of which I can speak happens. There’s also a value to that in life.
Daily Corinthian columnist Stacy Jones teaches English at McNairy Central High School and as an adjunct instructor at UT-Martin. She is pursuing an Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership through Lipscomb University in Nashville. She enjoys downtown Corinth.