A Natural Hair and fashion lifestyle blog based in Sonoma County, in the heart of Wine Country. Amber serves up inspiration for winery tourism, vegetarian recipes, style, and skincare.

When a stream becomes a riptide: trying to make sense of this year so far


Just three days before I was furloughed for nine weeks, I wrote a letter asking us all to remember our humanity. And oh, what a surreal time we have had since: I have watched, while sheltering in place, on my phone, as lifeless bodies in New York were lifted via forklifts into the back of trucks. I watched on social media the racist attacks on the Asian communities that occurred because of the coronavirus. And I felt the anger, confusion, and helplessness, while witnessing the murder of George Floyd.

In the months that followed I stepped up to stand and work alongside in solidarity, and often at the forefront, with the protests that have taken to the streets across the nation, and the world, and here within our local community for the Black Lives Matter movement. Our world is not the same place it was, just a few months ago. The United States feels anything but united, and we have lost over 150,000 souls to COVID-19, in a dizzying short span of time.

I am not the same person I was in March. In the first week of my furlough, I wish I could tell you what I was going through…but I don’t remember. Frankly, there was a lot of alcohol consumption. I tried to make it productive by launching a new series on Instagram that I called “Sips n’Skincare”. But that was a band-aid – which did what a band-aid is supposed to do: protect a wound while it heals. What I do remember is wrestling with the realization that much of my identity and happiness was built around my position at the company: in the weeks leading up to the furlough I tried to make it as clear as possible that I would do whatever I could to keep my position – but alas, the universe had other plans.

In my second or third week of Shelter In Place and furlough, I finally realized I could venture outside for a daily walk. Then came the creative outlet of posting to Instagram. Then the pulling away from social media and an inward reflection of what things in my life truly made me happy: art, poetry, reading, therapy, learning, fitness, and reconnecting with my family.

The one thing I did not do was write. Every time that I sat down to try and write out my feelings, I ended up creating lists: how many squats or push-ups I should do that day, or how many TikToks I could create...I wanted so badly to feel productive. More often than not the essays that I publish here assist me in making sense of the world around me and/or the experiences that I have had. But I have not been able to process these recent events. I don’t know where to start. I am aware that I have learned some powerful, and self-empowering lessons, and I know that I am having a difficult time verbalizing them. 

And, I am fully aware of my privilege when I say this: I am so fucking thankful for the furlough and SIP (which California is still under). I am thankful because I did not get sick. I am thankful because without the somewhat extreme isolation, I would not have been able to come into the mental space that I am now in. I had minimal distractions, and I used that as a time to reconnect with myself.  I think it was that time period of reconnecting that allowed me to step into the Black Lives Matter protests, in the final week of May.

Movements come and go: sometimes they fire up and fizzle out within a span of just a few days, with others lasting several weeks before being filtered out of the news cycle. With the local BLM movement, I have done what I can to research the life arch of a revolutionary movement - and have discovered that there is surprisingly little information out there in regards to this. But what I have been unable to find through research papers, I have learned in the streets: I have learned hard lessons at the marches. I have also made cherished friendships. I have learned about police and federal tactics, and I now intimately understand why "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".

Then, on the very cusp of my mental health beginning to crack with the stress of the pandemic, protest organization, marching, relationships, back-to-back heatwaves with no AC, my mail-in ballot request denied, and an ever-growing resentment for the "performance allyship" of local Influencers and brands...fire season in Northern California began a whole two months early, with a dry lightning storm of Biblical proportions. 

Within a span of 72 hours, California received nearly 11,000 lightning strikes which ignited fires all across the state - during a record breaking heatwave. As of today, there are currently over 600 fires burning throughout the Golden State. KN95 masks are my standard mask now, as they protect against both poor air quality due to the smoke and ash fall from the fires, and COVID-19. 

I can feel myself barreling towards apathy. I am...so fucking tired. It is a deep, numb type of tiredness. And I know that I could complain about all the things that have been in constant upheaval across the world, but what good would that do? We are all experiencing this in varying degrees. 

I want to change the world - and goddammit I am trying, but it's not changing fast enough. I feel like a drop of water in an ocean - a spec of dust in the universe, and I am wondering if any of our voices are being heard in the void. I find myself missing the days of uncertainty in March - before my entire world was turned on its head. When I stepped into my first protest, I had a panic attack; twice. I kept going - I kept searching for answers: and quickly realized what I had thought to be a a new stream of consciousness, was a riptide of unlearning so many, many things. 

I do not know what lies ahead for us. What I know is that I feel uncertain, as perhaps many of us do. And while I feel as though I shouldn't admit this, I will: I miss the old world. I miss my life before the pandemic, and before I learned how to "step into my blackness". I miss the days before masks and ash-fall - I miss the blissful ignorance that I lived in. A part of me aches knowing that I can't ever go back. 

The night after my first protest I came home in anger and tears. I wasn't understanding what I had witnessed, and I reached out to a friend. He educated me that day, and helped me to see things through a different, more wider lens. Last week he checked in: "I'm so proud of you. I've been quietly watching from the sidelines, and to see how you've grown...it's been a rewarding experience." 

I hope in due time this is how we remember 2020: tough as shit, but lots of growth to help us safely navigate into the future. 

Be safe my dears. 

Photography: Stephanie Lee


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A Mused Blog | A Northern California Sonoma County Blog