Looking at photos I took during a walk in Florida in March, 2020, I hardly recognize the street where we walk every day. A year ago, yellow tape roped off beaches and pools; stores and restaurants had "Closed" signs across their doors; masked figures patrolled the streets.
Today, masks still prevail...except on beaches where mobs of spring breakers sway shoulder to shoulder, while police push, spray, arrest, and declare a curfew. Covid 19 will have its way, with a fourth spike threatening.
We haven't been ill, though family members have been. Recently, we lost a brother-in-law to cancer. We have shelter without multiple generations living under one roof. We have food. We aren't sending our children or grandchildren on a forced march across thousands of miles to safety. We haven't been forcibly or unjustly detained or killed.
The horror of the spring and chaos of the summer have given way to a new "normal." This "normal" means I'm not scurrying through the grocery store like a mouse in a maze, although I still wipe every item with a disinfecting square when I get home. We can now sit outside at restaurants. We explore our narrow world inside four walls and our environs within a drive of several hours. We take advantage of the weather to exercise outdoors as much as possible. We no longer run to meetings and appointments throughout the day and have found we enjoy the new pace. We have rekindled our relationships with family and friends on Zoom or Facetime or over the phone.
As of April 1, 2021, 29% of the U.S. population had been vaccinated with at least one dose of a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson serum. Citizens numbering 534,387 had perished, alone and unable to breathe. Charley and I were fortunate to receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine in February in Florida. The future looked brighter.
Our relationship to our home has altered. We have "nested." A refuge, a prison at times, it has become our space for work, experimental cooking, rest, recreation, and physical activity. Zoom has brought our homes into public view. I look around, tired of the same walls, the same furnishings, the same spaces that have become filled. At least we have walls to look at! We have windows to keep out the elements. We have a bed and light that comes on with a switch, and if the plumbing stops working, we can get it fixed. Our mail comes regularly (slowly); there is water and it's hot.
Domestic harmony has become a priority, as we spend almost twenty hours together each day. Fortunately, we each have private spaces within our home and since we're in Florida, we can always retreat outdoors for isolation!
And yet, it feels like a lost, numb year, particularly for our grandkids, struggling to maintain a flow of learning between a physical classroom and a screen. Distance from our loved ones has made hugs a gift we dream of. Spinning in a tight circle and reading piles of books, I stalled out, unable to start another manuscript. I waited for motivation or inspiration. Spontaneity and joy were missing.
And yet, creativity must remain our salvation - at work, at school, in decompression. I re-energize with my surroundings - the wildlife, the beauty of nature, the love - and look forward to when "normal" isn't an exhausting state of emergency.