Currently, I am one of the lucky ones. I’ll clock in (online) at my job on Tuesday to help students try and understand science. My family, scattered around the East Coast, seems to be in relatively good health, corona or otherwise. The pantry is full of food, and the laundry room has toilet paper. Wyatt, my wise old black Lab, is lying at my feet, while my young pup Nugget and too-fat cat Sookie watch the bees fly in and out of their little wooden home. I look up from my laptop to watch all of this unfold, sitting on the teal metal patio furniture I picked up at the side of a neighborhood dumpster. Yes, in this uncertain time of COVID-19, everything seems okay in my tiny world.
But notice I said currently. That’s because, even with things looking fine and dandy here on this balcony, I’m not silly enough to think things can’t change in an instant. People have said we live in uncertain times. I would argue it’s always been that way.
Since I was an elementary school girl caught in the Catholic school world, I have had a heightened awareness that things could change at any time. Nothing happened to make me think this. There were no tragic deaths, my parents didn’t scare me, I wasn’t beaten with rulers by nuns. Still, for some reason, I knew there was little control over what really happened in the world. When I was in second grade, I was convinced, for reasons I can’t point out, that my mom and dad would die in car accidents while I was at school. My mom can tell you about this – me running from school after she walked me to the building, crying that she wouldn’t be there at the end of the day.
By the time I was in high school, I had determined that much of life was simply dumb luck. You could do your best, make your choices, but in the end, I felt it all came down to luck. What really kept me from being born into a celebrity mansion or an impoverished slum? Were my choices really so great, or was I simply never put in situations that required real strength of character? I would get into arguments with classmates and friends throughout high school and college about this stance of mine.
At those times, I was angry at the blatant unfairness of it all. How so many of life’s decisions were out of anyone’s hands. It seemed to be the biggest joke without a funny punchline.
As I grew up, I grew out of the anger and into true gratitude. (Thanks in large part, I will happily tell you, to a heavy dose of therapy.) If I saw life as a large part luck, then all the more reason to be thankful for it.
So that is why I say currently things are fine and on any given day could change, and this is no different than that, although it may feel so different to others. And I have not remained completely untouched. I have lost all three of the part-time jobs I need to help me create a safety net and true financial stability. My friends around the country are in different states of quarantine or lockdown. Many of them have lost their jobs or taken cuts in pay. My favorite taco place closed, and I’m not sure it will be back. I’m prone to respiratory infections, and over the years I have had longer recoveries from each one. My parents are both in the age bracket of worry. Those are the current difficult changes.
There are other changes too. My dogs are happier and calmer with the time I can spend with them. I have been able to sleep on a normal schedule instead of waking up well before the sun. Meals have become relaxing, without the 20-minute shove-down the school schedule brings. Friends in different times zones are able to talk with me more easily, and we’ve become stronger in our determination to be part of each others lives, both now and in the future. I have seen more of my neighbors, from six feet apart or more. Those are the current positive changes.
After this is “all over” we will start our next batch of changes as a city, state, country and world. What exactly these changes will be I have no idea to even form a guess. If you stop to think about it, there is a no more symbolically perfect time for all of these changes to start than the month of April.
Winter is officially over, flowers are bursting with color, birds are raising a ruckus, you can start to banish sweaters and throw on a tank top to greet the sun. Everything is starting new.
And at the end of this, so will we.
The article Life and Thoughts in the time of corona was written by Elizabeth Schap and first appeared on just B more.
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