Though I had a different blog post planned for this week, it’s been hard to focus on anything lately. My attention is pulled in a thousand different directions. Because over the past few weeks, my life has turned upside down.
This is not a unique story. It is common to everyone else here in the Seattle area and in other U.S. locations and the world at large. Right now, all of us are grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Sequestering ourselves. Upending our routines. Staying home. Starting to feel the financial implications. Trying to figure out how to get our work done while making sure our kids don’t just spend all day playing Mariokart (or maybe that’s just me).
During this strange time in our history, I figured I might as well process all this stress and uncertainty the way I do best: by writing about it. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be going Old School Blog and doing some journaling, to give you a window into our little world.
The Beginnings: March 5-10
I’ve been following the emergence of this novel coronavirus since it started making news in late 2019. I admit that I have a bit of a fascination with such things… after all, a fictional zoonotic respiratory infection plays into the plot of the Call of the Crow Quartet. But I watched the outbreak in Wuhan with detached horror, hoping that it would be reined in quickly.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t, though it took months before its impacts were felt in my local area. At the beginning of March, we learned of the first U.S. death in a nearby suburb. Days later, my work (a research center that has been closely studying this situation from the beginning) instituted a mandatory remote work policy. I grumbled a bit, because I actually enjoy going into the office, but I grabbed what I needed (though I’m kicking myself for forgetting to bring my bottle of hand sanitizer) and headed home on the train one last time, for a while anyway.
The Next Shake-Up: March 10
For a few days, I slowly adapted to this new set of circumstances. Despite some technological hiccups and other annoyances, working from home was all right, and I managed to keep up with my book-related work too. I decided I would start each day with a walk around the neighborhood to help keep my spirits up. But I knew in my bones that another storm was coming, and thanked my lucky stars every night I received the email that schools would remain open.
Then one day, just after dismissal time, I learned that there had been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at my daughter’s school, and that it would be closing. My daughter called me while on the carpool ride home, sad and a little freaked out. We decided to keep both her and my son home the following day, just to be cautious.
Further Complications: March 11-13
Wednesday March 11 was a challenge; I tried to balance work and childcare while my husband was at work. Thankfully, my kids are old enough now (9 and 12) that they can entertain themselves fairly well, and even printed off some math worksheets to work on while I was otherwise engaged. Later that day, we got word that all schools would close for a minimum of two weeks.
Even though I had prepared myself for this eventuality, I cried silently to myself for a minute. How on earth, I wondered, was I supposed to focus on work with the kids running around, and also figure out school-related activities to keep them engaged in learning, and get back to the actual writing of my next manuscript that I’ve been putting off for ages because it turns out websites take a million years to build?
I had no idea. It was all totally overwhelming.
Then, to add insult to injury, I started feeling a little off that afternoon. Headachey. Exhausted. I took a walk with my daughter after I logged off my work computer, but after that I was just ready to flop into bed and not get up again.
I didn’t feel better the next day. Or the next. No fever or anything, just this achy exhaustion. Then I started coughing. Only a little, nothing overly concerning. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder.
My daughter kept peeking into my room whenever I would lie down for a rest. “Mama, are you okay?” she asked nervously every time. And every time I replied, “Of course. Just a little tired.” That was true, too, but even though I just felt like lying in bed all day, I’d get up from time to time to eat and drink tea and play the occasional board game with them. So they didn’t worry. Even though the silent dread would creep up from time to time. Will it get worse? What will I do if it gets worse?
Then the schools announced they would close for at least six weeks. My work extended the mandatory remote policy. The cafe where my husband works decided to close temporarily. All of it necessary. But all very stressful.
Our Shrinking World: March 14-15
And that brings us to this weekend. I still don’t feel well. But it’s not getting worse, so I’m trying to just ride this out. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get tested, not sure I’ll ever know for sure if I have The Virus. I’m not really sure of anything, to be honest. It all still feels very uncertain. There’s always that dread lurking on the horizon, waiting to fill me up if I let my guard down.
But on the flip side, there is also a quiet peace to these days. Our world has shrunk to include only the borders of our home. (For the record, I have not so much as ventured outside since I started feeling unwell, and don’t plan to do so anytime soon.) This might start to feel claustrophobic as the weeks go on, but for now it’s the only place I want to be. Here in this bed, by this open window, with a cat snuggled up next to me and a lasagna waiting to be popped into the oven. These are strange, strange days. But we’ll get through.
Are you dealing with COVID-19 closures in your local community too? How are you coping? Tell me what’s on your mind in the comments!