The Last Normal Day
A week and a half before the world officially changed in my corner of the globe, when news was looking serious, and whispers of quarantines were just beginning, I was chatting with someone at work about how worrying this whole situation is. He is someone I trust at work, a reasonable person with a legal background and always a kind word and a genuine smile.
“What do you think is going to happen?” I asked him nervously. He responded that, though this was not the company line, he predicted we would all be working from home within two weeks.
He was right.
Thursday, March 12th, I was still going through my days like “normal.” Maintaining the routine of school-work-home etc, despite growing panic and concerns. It was in the back of my mind throughout the day-to-day processes. I’d started some new office policies to enhance cleaning and sanitation procedures in common areas, disinfecting wipes were found near all workstations, and hand sanitizers were placed throughout the office. I’d done away with the employee & guest sign-in book, as I did not want anyone touching something as simple as a pen that everyone else had to touch, and wanted to limit how much time any one person spent lingering in the reception area. Some people had already begun working at home that week within our office.
It was strange, there were no official orders or suggestions yet of what to do, only mounting panic and concern that people didn’t know how to channel, so people bought. Hoarded toilet paper and water and paper towels. We were all told to wash our hands. That’s about it. But things were shutting down one by one. Basketball games cancelled, all sports cancelled, concerts, university classes. My last normal day was Thursday March 12th, when I had a date to go to the gym with a girlfriend. I hate that term, girlfriend, by the way, to refer to a platonic friend, but here I am quantifying my platonic friendship date at the gym with a longtime friend. It was an effort to stay normal amid chaos, gyms were still open, and professionals advised that it was still OK to go to the gym as long as you wash your hands and wipe off equipment. You know, the things you should have been doing all along.
The gym was pretty barren that night, honestly. My friend lent me one of those cool metal reusable water bottles, since I had been running late. “We should do this more often!” we both agreed at the end of the workout. Time flew by, we both worked up a good sweat and felt the soreness the next day. I’m usually a person that works out alone, even in a group fitness setting, I’m still “alone” in the sense it’s just me doing my own thing, not having to rely or interact with another person. I picked up my daughter from the gym’s childcare, where she was the only kid there. She ran and gave me and my friend a big hug, told us all about how nice this gym was. This was out of our routine, since we had moved recently, I was trying out other locations that my gym’s membership offered. We walked out to the parking lot, still chatting about how pleasant this evening was, and through our submerged concerns mentioned we will do this more often “if things don’t get shut down,” that is.
The next day, Friday March 13th, I dropped my daughter off at school, and I went to work. People were still panicking, clearing out store shelves of all supplies. For the past week, when it seemed like any day, someone of sound mind would make the announcement to close shop and stay home, I’d been bringing my laptop home, just in case. On Friday, where it was more of the acceptance stage of “things are about to go really bad” I had packed up more work-at-home supplies to go with my laptop because it became more and more evident that “just in case” wasn’t a possibility, but a certainty. I’d received a text from Lizzy’s best friend’s mother that the birthday party planned for Saturday was cancelled. One by one things were being cancelled in an abundance of caution, even if no official word of social distancing or mandatory stay-at-home orders were issued yet, we all knew what was best, what we should be doing, even if we were not being officially told so. We all knew we had to put our families’ health and protection first, because “business as usual” would not be cutting it any longer.
That weekend, my company sent an email out to all employees that anyone who has the capability to work from home should be doing that effective immediately. I knew it was coming, and I was prepared. So I have a desk set up in my home now, dedicated to working and “business as usual.” All the schools in my state are closed and my daughter has been home ever since. Though I anticipated this happening, it is still bittersweet, thinking on the last time I picked her up, you never know it’s the last time. She might not see those friends again, something she doesn’t consider yet, but has definitely crossed my mind. She might not return to school this year. I wasn’t even the one to pick her up from her last day of school, something that makes me sad. As a fun surprise that day, my BFF Jaclyn and her kids picked up Lizzy, and we all hung out that evening at my home, the first time Jaclyn came to see our new home. The kids played, we all had pizza and the adults chatted about how this might be the last time we see one another for a while.
I didn’t mention that earlier, that we’d just moved into this place in February. It’s funny how things happen. I remember when I was a new mom adjusting to life with an infant, and desperately wishing I had a break, irony knocked me down and put me in the hospital a few times with gallbladder issues. So I got my “break” but it’s never quite what you picture it to be. I had taken two days off of work while we moved in, and this whole time I had kept wishing that I’d had a little bit more time at home to get settled, fully unpacked, organized the way I liked, pictures hung and projects done. Irony strikes again, it looks like I have plenty time at home now.
I’d started this post on April 1st and here it is April 14th that I’m trying to wrap it up because I’d like to document things more consistently. I know I am lucky to still be working, but this is hard. It is so hard working from home with a 4 year old who is going through her own hard time with this situation. We’re all trying out best, and I just feel spread so thin. I’m trying to be a productive employee, an attentive mother, all with the comforts and distractions of my home. This child likes to eat, a lot, several times a day. Breakfast Dessert has been invented. I’m baking a lot of bread.
Easter came and went, and the most family we saw was Lizzy’s grandma through the screen door of our patio. We go on lots of walks now, looking at nature, painting rocks, blowing bubbles and trying to plant flowers. We say hi to our neighbors from a distance, and we consider ourselves lucky if we go to a store and they have something we wanted like butter, flour or toilet paper. We do some art projects, we do some crafts, and we try to not get on each others nerves. My social little butterfly must be tired of me by now.
I saw a commercial last week that the Red Cross and other centers are in desperate need of blood, so I made an appointment to go. That’s the only me-time away from my house I get, I have to voluntarily agree to a bloodletting to have an excuse to leave. They were really nice there, and treated me very well. The person in charge said “First time donor? Why now?” and I’m like “I’m just trying to get outta the house, man.”
It’s one of those days where we are having a better day, but it makes me sad. To say “I wish things were back to normal” would be a disservice to those whose normal was never working out for them, but I am wishing for a world where we are all healthy and safe again soon and can begin healing now that we seem to understand what our priorities are a little bit more.