I’m Still Here (Kind Of)

I haven’t been updating, mostly because there isn’t much of interest to impart. We were last out in the world, in a “normal” capacity, on March 14. Pi(e) Day. Also the 8th anniversary of our move to California. That day we went to an escape room and then to In-N-Out Burger. We already knew that the kids would be “distance learning” the following week. We knew that the Japanese students that were supposed to come stay with us wouldn’t be coming after all. Still, on the 16th I went to get fingerprinted so that I’d be able to attend a school camping trip in May. That was my last time out before shelter-in-place took effect at midnight. (We are one of the six East Bay counties that first moved to do that, a couple days before our governor did it for the whole state.)

Since then, we’ve mostly had necessities delivered to the house. I’ve had to go a couple times to the pharmacy, and I had to take my son to the orthodontist at one point, but other than that, aside from short walks around the neighborhood, we’ve stayed home. In the house or in the back yard. Thank goodness for our swimming pool, and the concrete the kids can chalk on, and the fig tree that is good for climbing, and the lawn that we can use the bocce set on. We are, I know, way more fortunate than many at the moment.

Still, it’s hard. I’ve been sick for about eight weeks and my options for health care are currently limited, partly by the system and partly by what I’m willing to risk. I will be going for blood testing next week after having put it off for a couple months now. I’ll wear my mask and bring my gloves and hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, I am still trying to make sure all the kids get their school work done, and I’m trying to do laundry, and make sure they get some fresh air, and keep them relatively quiet so my husband can work… Sometimes I’m able to do a little writing or reading, but it’s mostly difficult to find the time and focus. I never know when a child will need something. Even when I can be relatively assured of quiet, it’s so hard to feel motivated and concentrate. I find myself mostly watching YouTube and doing sudoku puzzles.

I had so much to look forward to this year, and now… it’s tough not to feel sad, angry, a whole mixture of emotions. I guess I—and I’m sure many others—feel robbed. Of life. I mean, obviously I’m still alive and better off than many, but… My eighth-grade son won’t get all the graduation activities he was looking forward to, and who knows what his freshman high school experience will look like? That school camping trip… Well, the school is hoping to do it in the fall instead, but again, who knows? I was going to return to the stage at Winedale for its 50th anniversary in August, but… ??? My trip to Japan in September? Seems less and less likely. My daughter’s horse shows, her choir performances, my son’s band performances, his track season… Just all gone. And yes, I understand why we’re doing all this, and I agree it’s best to be safe. I’m a terribly risk averse person, and I don’t mind being a homebody most of the time. But it will be a long time before I complain about having to go somewhere or do something outside of the house again… At least once it feels mostly safe to do so. Not knowing when that will be is a big part of the burden. If I knew where the end was, if I could see that light at the end of the tunnel (and know for sure there isn’t another tunnel up ahead on the track), that would definitely help my spirits overall, I think. But no one knows. Even experts are mostly guessing, though their guesses are educated, which is better than a lot of other [mis]information being spread. The problem is, a solution is going to take time, and we’re a world that’s become used to things being instantaneous. We’re an impatient planet. We don’t like being told we have to wait.

Because time is something we all have, but also don’t know how much we have. We don’t like to feel like we’re wasting it.

“It’s not a waste of time to spend this time with your family,” I can hear some people saying. “Be glad you have this opportunity.” Things of that ilk. I am aware of my good fortune. I love my family. But I’m also feeling beat down, worn out by the long drag of hours and illness and the unknown. These things can be true simultaneously: that I value this time with my family and that I wish it would break. By which I mean, I don’t want it to end, but to change in some way. I don’t know how else to phrase it. This isn’t vacation; we’re not out having fun. We are doing things like board games and karaoke and family meals and movie nights, but these are things we used to do even before we were all stuck inside together. We’ve always been a fairly close clan. So… in some ways, this is more of the same, or maybe too much of a good thing.

As someone who has generally kept her sanity by always having something to look forward to, something on her schedule to plan towards, this is very much a struggle for me. Because I can’t plan anything. I feel like I have very little hope. There is no light, just tunnel. This is where I am, and I’m sorry if it’s a downer. Eventually I’ll be able to sit and read a book and make a new YouTube video. Or maybe I’ll finally get clear enough to write some more. Until then… I will keep doing sudoku. Though I think I’ll need to order a new puzzle book as I’ve almost finished this one…

One thought on “I’m Still Here (Kind Of)”

  1. I understand so much of what you’re saying – particularly about not knowing the end date. That is SO hard. And you’re so right, it’s not a vacation. It’s not something we chose. I can and do count my blessings. I have a job that has let me work at home. I have Zoe. I am very grateful. At the same time, fighting depression when it’s scary to go outside and every day brings news of more sickness and death is hard. I don’t want to open everything up again just to see more people get sick and die. I want to feel safe. It’s a tough path for all of us to navigate right now. I hear you.

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