It’s 10:15 on Sunday, February 21st, and this pandemic has now been going on for too long.
When all of the kids on my street got off the bus for Spring Break last March, I assumed it would be longer than what the school system was saying at the time. And I remember telling my son that he would remember what we were about to experience for the rest of his life.
We were lucky that the weather was so nice. We had a streak of sunny, just barely warm, days, that made dealing with the end of the world much easier.
I was working on teaching the second half of the Spring semester. We had a puzzle going on the dining room table, which was also what I was using for my office. My wife was mostly using our home office. We hadn’t yet learned to work in the same room yet. Having to keep the kids working on their hastily assembled distance learning assignments while doing our jobs wasn’t so easy. Whereas they used to be somewhat compartmentalized by time and location:
our jobs, being parents, being married, maintaining the house — suddenly it was all smashed into one constant timeline. I was always at work. I was always at home. The puzzle was always there to trick my brain into no being at work or at home, but to instead focus on piecing together an illustrated Baltimore Harbor.
I met my neighbor for a drink or two in the street, after dark. The first night that the lockdown was fully in effect, he hosted a fire pit in his back yard, and we were both amazed at how quiet the world was. There was no noise coming from the interstate and bypass that surround the part of the county that we live in. Even sitting across the fire pit from each other felt a little bit dangerous. Maybe a little risky. But this was when we were still bleaching and power sanding our groceries before we brought them in the house.
When we would meet for a late night, cross street drink, we would talk about the anxieties that we were feeling. What would happen after half the population lost their jobs? Would social order break down?
Thinking back on that time now, it feels like a different world. I think that having a family and living in a house in a not-too-densely-packed neighborhood has given us a different view of the pandemic than those who live alone or live in cities. We can’t do a lot of what we used to do, and our jobs are mostly remote, but our kids can go outside and run around, an we can go on long walks or just sit outside if we want to. We’re not suffering from loneliness and isolation. We’re suffering from the lack of isolation.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve thought about writing over the course of all of this. I felt paralyzed for a lot of it. I’ve also been constantly thinking about what kind of writing I am excited about doing these days.
In any case, I finally had the itch to write something to post, and I’m glad I was able to sit down and at least get this much out.