Day One

I don’t know why I still am amazed at how, whenever I have a plan, the universe says, “Nope, we’re doing it THIS way instead.” You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now….

This past January, my family and I took a trip to Hawaii. The day we left was the first day they started visibly screening incoming passengers from China at our home airport, LAX, for signs of a novel virus. Our flight was one of the earliest ones to leave that morning and we overheard one of the TSA meetings being given by a person I can only guess was a manager. “Signs that someone is sick are a runny nose, weepy eyes, sneezing, and coughing,” I could hear this person saying as we finished clearing security. That was January 18th.

Today is March 18th; it’s the third day my son’s school has been closed (officially through April 6th but probably much longer than that). He’s in Kindergarten and his teacher told me via the chat app we’ve been using all year that he thought they were all going to 1st grade as they were sent home last Friday with all of their school workbooks. I probably would have thought the same thing! It’s the first day I’ve been ordered to work remotely from home in my entire working career–the work I do doesn’t really lend itself to it but these are indeed desperate times. Also between January 18th and now have come trickling in the cancellations and closures–global, local, and personal–that at first seemed absurd but now seem like absolute necessities. I was doing okay until the NCAA announced that they were cancelling both the men’s and women’s annual championship tournament, which includes March Madness, which I look forward to so much that I actually purposefully planned my pregnancy around it. I even wrote about it here last year. This announcement was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

How do you find normality in a reality that is so far from any kind of normal you have ever known? How do you keep laughing when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and rock until someone gently whispers in your ear it’s all over? How do you, just, do? Thankfully in my case, with some of the personal cancellations and closures came alternative options. My son’s weekly dance class will have its first online session this Saturday–we’ve talked about how we’re going to clear space for him in the living room and how he gets to use Mommy’s laptop with the camera so the teacher can make sure he has the correct form. He’s also excited to be doing his homework in the mornings while I am doing my work in my office, because we both have “work time.” Not sure how long this homework excitement will last but I’ll take all I can get for now.

We’ve been enjoying lingering walks outside, even puddle jumping ones in the rain because it’s been raining for almost two weeks straight here–another rarity. My son and I took one after lunch today. As we rounded one corner we saw a man approaching with his elderly father who was wearing a mask. We had nowhere to really move over and give them space and I started panicking inwardly because I had no idea how they were going to react; seems like some people think children are the angels of death for the elderly right now. I stopped walking, moved over as much as I could, and pulled my son close to me. As they got closer and I could see their faces, I could see on his face where the mask wasn’t covering (and also in his eyes) that the elderly man had a huge smile. He said hello as he passed, as did his son. We did the same and continued on our journey. As we were finishing up and approaching our own house our elderly neighbor across the street was finishing up one of her daily walks with her daughter. She stopped and stared as soon as she saw us coming up the hill–she had no mask on so I could clearly see her smile. She waved and waved, and we waved back, and then it dawned on me how isolated some of our elderly population really is right now. She literally watched my son run all the way up the hill with a huge grin on her face and even stared at our door for another good minute after we’d gone inside. To be completely honest, I was just as happy to see her as she was to see us. Human beings are, after all, social creatures.

I’ve been checking in with family and framily, offering funny memes, shared frustration, and video chats–my family in San Francisco is going on day two of having to shelter in place, so Granny gets first dibs on FaceTime. I’ve adopted the mantra “we knew this was coming, it was only a matter of time” for the closures and cancellations that are still coming on an almost hourly basis so my mind reacts more in a well-of-course way instead of an oh-no-not-this-too way. As I’m typing this I literally received notification that my Global Entry renewal interview scheduled for just three weeks from now has been cancelled. If you have no idea how hard it is to get those, trust me–it’s really hard and I’d almost rather give up a digit on my dominant hand than have to reschedule. Notice I said almost, because what other choice do I have?

I’m reminding myself, as I’ve been reminding my son, that all of what is happening right now is temporary. Even though the temporary time period may last for quite a long span of time, it still will not be forever. I’m looking for the silver linings and grateful for the blessings I have in the midst of all that is happening, because but for a lot of luck and a little grace I could be in a much worse situation. I’m still unmuting and doing things that make me happy, like enjoying a delicious glass of Malbec with my lunch today from a Rosenblum Cellars label called Stark Raving, because I’m also still trying to find humor to help keep me sane–Stark Raving, get it?!? I’m looking for the helpers and trying to remember to be a helper myself, which includes checking up on our elderly neighbor who lives next door and has no family living close by her. I’m also looking for the rainbows, the following of which was gifted to me on my drive home from work yesterday:

The timing of this was uncanny. I cannot think of a clearer sign that all will eventually be righted again–definitely not today and of course not tomorrow, but someday for certain. Until next time, please do take care, keep unmuting, and stay healthy and safe.

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