Ad Astra per Aspera

Written By - Tessa Cash

As I bowed my head to allow the water to rinse off the smokey haze of the day, I found myself almost startled at the ten purple dots staring back at me. The white tiles of the shower in contrast highlighted the almost gothic shade of nail varnish. I liked deep colours as much as I liked deep conversations. I almost always regretted choosing a pastel. The sheer delight of a shade that shocked and popped and asked whispered, disruptive questions during speeches was my alma mater. I hadn’t seen such a sight for many moons. My mind rushed back to earlier in the day, when I was ushered outside to one of five compact booths, so carefully set up as to restrict any transmission of a few mutated strands of DNA that had overwhelmed and accordingly changed the world on a gargantuan scale. A swift swell of emotion rose to run with the vast array of memories that lined up in my mind like a photo album. The Thursday that everyone went to Wholefoods and there weren’t any frozen vegetables or perishable items left. The dread that filled my body when the analyst in SpaceNK shared the rumoured intel that the city was going to be shut down. That store doesn’t exist anymore. It’s gone. The faded memory of the last time I sat inside a cafe, not counting the time I illegally stood at the weeping windows of Variety Coffee feeling equal parts badly about each moment I lingered, but not wanting to get soaked in the flash flood of a thunder storm New York City so graciously proffers during the summer months. The no-going-back-seriousness of it all the day my fitness classes were cancelled. The lines outside supermarkets. The wail of sirens. The essays I wrote standing at my flat stove to avoid siting down all day.

The last time I looked down to see a freshly curated pedicure, the world was a different place, I was a different person and I lived in a different apartment, in a city that was on the other side of the country.  All of a sudden I felt the pain of the whole nine months penetrate my consciousness. Not only my pain, but the pain of families who were being evicted, the pain of people who had lost beloveds, the pain of the loneliness, the arguments, the tension, the separation, the loneliness and the extreme fear and grief that had overtaken our psyches. Oh, to have known then what we knew now. The struggle that lay ahead.

Change is the only constant in our lives, to be certain, and a pedicure isn’t the most essential aspect of life by a long shot. I had almost, in fact, considered cancelling the appointment after examining how much I really needed to have my toe nails coloured in, despite grumbling about not being able to have this luxury available for months on end. I loathe to paint this small piece of inconsequential writing with some corny punchline because no one needs any extra bullshit to consume in the current climate of asphyxiating information. Bearing this in mind, and since I dare deem it worthy to pay tribute to the fact that this conversation did stem from the banal task of bathing, the one thought that deserves to be expressed is how proud of everyone I was. How proud of the strength we’ve all had to endure, adapt, reconsider and evolve as we move forward into each new day and each new week that seems to be a fresh firing line of shocking and desperately sad news. And I think we need to hold onto that strength through the tumbling waves of the untameable ocean of the future.