Slide background

Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

Order Now

Emails to my Therapist

New to the Vulnerable Category

Dear Nicholas, Because I’m healthy and was a well-fed well-behaved child, I’m not used to thinking of myself in the at-risk or vulnerable category. It’s something of a shock now to be considered because of my age–a modest 71–vulnerable to catching coronavirus and dying.

I don’t believe I’m going to catch this bug and die. But I’m still being careful–I don’t want to die, I don’t want my husband to get sick and die, and I don’t want to die of stupidity.

Here in North Carolina we’re to move today to Phase Two of the loosening of restrictions. Restaurants are allowed to open at 50% capacity, etc. But as a vulnerable person, married and in quarantine with a vulnerable person, I’m not eating out tonight. In fact, I think it’ll probably be riskier with more people out and about.

For a Swashbuckling Old Lady…

This is so different from the way I’m accustomed to thinking about risk and about myself. I don’t much like my new attitude. I prefer to view myself as a swashbuckling individual of only slightly advanced age. Even though I’ve failed utterly at my attempts to learn to surf, which ended last summer because no matter what I do, the waves go too fast.


(The swashbuckling old lady is a personality type that hasn’t had adequate screen time or press in our youth-focused culture.) As one of my brothers said to me not long ago, “Did you always know you were a tomboy?”


Keeping Company in the Vulnerable Category

I wonder whether I would have become so careful if I were living alone. I think of my new carefulness as largely motivated by keeping Husband Bob from getting the virus. He’s a bit older than I am and has had heart surgery, so he’s even deeper than I into The Vulnerable Category. (See below, our two goldfish mimicking Bob and me in quarantine.)



However, I think I might stay home even if I were just protecting myself  (and others out in the world.) I’m weirdly content with my current quiet schedule: working at home, eating canned goods, playing in the yard, hanging with Bob, and reading. I’m fortunate not to be trapped in a tiny city apartment with no access to outdoors, fortunate not to be furloughed or unemployed.


Just In Time

And–maybe I’m for once taking my own vulnerability seriously. If so, this is a good time to be doing it. I remember your once saying to me, Nicholas, that we’re all equally vulnerable. I never did understand that. Maybe I didn’t want to.


Still, this onset of good judgment is for me a bit of a comeuppance. And as is often true with a comeuppance, it’s not a bit too soon.

Somewhat less brashly yours,



#vulnerable #swashbucklingoldlady

Follow This Blog


Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  • May 22, 2020 at 1:43 am Reply

    Like you, we are staying home with the exception of doing curbside pick-ups for everything that isn’t delivered. This is my introvert self’s bliss – ordering and paying online or by phone, driving up at an appointed time, and having delicious local food, groceries, even wine, tucked into the rear hatch of the Subaru Outback. I feel very grateful to have the farm, the local food, and a group of dear friends who are willing to keep in touch via texts, emails, and Zoom.

    I turned 60 this year and am on the edge of that age range now that takes me aback when I realize I’m there. Husband has had asthma since childhood so while he’s younger than me, he has a vulnerability. It’s unsettling and surreal to think about in such a daily way.

    But dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, gardens, bees – lots to keep us busy. Stay safe and enjoy the insulated time. There’s something precious about it for sure.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 22, 2020 at 1:53 am Reply

      You and I are both having the best of this strange situation, Billie. I wonder if I’ll have a kind of nostalgia about it later. Your farm sounds so lovely. Best of health to you and all your various kinds of folks there!

  • May 22, 2020 at 1:53 am Reply

    No one I’d rather be quarantined with.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 22, 2020 at 1:55 am Reply

      Ditto. We’re lucky that way, Bob

  • Kenju
    May 22, 2020 at 4:26 am Reply

    I could have written this, word for word. But I know it would not be as well written, had I done it. We are the same; staying in and ordering everything on- line. I’m glad to know you have stayed well!

    • Peggy Payne
      May 22, 2020 at 1:14 pm Reply

      Thanks, and I am glad to know you have stayed well, Kenju, and that you are finding some good in this strange respite.

  • Lee Grohse
    May 23, 2020 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Me, too. While I’m a physically clumsy person and not good at sports, I was a tomboy and spent a good bit of time hanging by the legs from the limbs of an oak tree back in my childhood. Part of my tree climbing and hanging was that I could not conceptualize how you fall if you don’t let go. The other part was probably that it terrified my mother. As a young mother, I liked to tease my children by climbing trees and taunting them to climb up to me. They were good tree climbers, too. I think of myself as someone who takes reasonable precautions (seat belt, immunizations, no hitchhiking, etc.). But I don’t feel vulnerable, probably live bolder than most of my friends of similar age and situation, and look with a certain level of distain on people who are afraid of a lot of things. I’ve never had a serious health scare. This is the first time I have thought “I could die from this if I get it.” I am convinced of its high level of contagion, and I give it thought that my odds of dying, in say the next six -12 months, while still low, are higher than they’ve ever been before. I’m finding that this makes me mad. While I think the people who are protesting having to stay in and wear masks and such are total jerks, I have to admit I get the anger part. Unlike them, I don’t think I’ve lost my reasoning about how much and to whom I can assign blame for this. But I do feel angry that there is something out there that is not letting me live my life as the Semi-Swashbuckling Old Lady I thought I was.. Its a narcissistic blow to be sure.

    • Peggy Payne
      May 23, 2020 at 5:41 pm Reply

      Well, we’re in the same place, Lee, except for the anger part (and the fact that my mother talked me out of the oak tree trick by describing life with a broken neck). I’m happy to have dodged the anger so far. I hadn’t thought of quarantine as a narcissistic wound, but you’re certainly right: it is. And I have an underlying layer of fear of being responsible for Bob getting the virus if he does which he surely won’t. Just now got quite upset because one of my two pictured goldfish looked like he was dying or dead–and I’ve badly neglected cleaning the aquarium. Took me two stricken hours before I could get myself to face doing it and discovering the facts of the situation. Now the fish has rallied and eaten a good brunch. It gives me some idea of how pre-emptive guilt is lurking.

Leave a Comment


Follow This Blog