NPR has been running segments lately sharing listeners stories about when they knew life was going to change because of the pandemic. I think this is such an interesting question and I think it’s super important to document it because it is history.
‘We may be in the same storm but we are in different boats.’ This quote is such a good reminder that we all experienced the pandemic in very different ways.
My #themoment was when we realized that my college girls were going to need to move home. We had already decided to keep Kate home from High School because there were cases in our greater Puget Sound area and we didn’t know how far they reached. Pretty quickly we decided that Allen and Kate should go on a ‘rescue’ mission and drive all the way Boise to pack up Ellie’s dorm room and bring her home all in two days. (I did not go because we’d just gotten our pandemic puppy and she was only 8 weeks old.). Boise State did a pretty good job of pivoting on short notice and Ellie actually attended a class or two on the drive home by logging in online. Jill came home a week later planning on just a few weeks…it turned into a few months.
Back to that quote. We are incredibly lucky. We were never worried about jobs, or where our food would come from. My brother had died a few weeks before everything shut down and we were not able to give him any sort of service or memorial. So there were a lot of mixed up feelings there…including a very real fear that we could lose somebody else in our family. But for the most part we were ok. I was grateful to have my peeps all under one roof and have a full dinner table. I was happy that Allen was able to work more from home (he normally traveled weekly to have meetings inside hospitals.) and that he has a good office set up in the basement so his exceptionally loud conference calls could be contained.
But not all of us were happy with these developments. Kate was just finding a good group of friends and was just starting to make strong connections. When everything shut down she didn’t leave the house for weeks. She would FaceTime with her friends but it’s hard for teens to stay social distant and still feel connected. (We ended up getting paddle boards for the summer so Kate and her friends would have an easy activity that would automatically keep them far enough apart and active outside. She also would have socially distant dinners where all the friends would get takeout and meet in a parking lot to eat together out of the backs of all the cars.). School was not an issue for her because Kate went into the lockdown with all A’s and students couldn’t get lower grades than what they had. In the fall Kate started a new job working for a family two doors down helping to get their kids online for school in the afternoons while the parents work. She has loved every minute of it!
Ellie’s freshman year in college was cut short. Boise State was good at going online for most classes but trying to do a metal arts class from home (no welding here!) is no picnic. But Ellie got creative and made quite a few beautiful things with whatever we had around the house…including an aluminum can headdress. Ellie managed to pull off a socially distant prom for her workmates who graduated last year and missed out on a prom of their own. And she did really well moving into an apartment with friends and continuing to do some distance and some in person learning at BSU. It has been a disappointing year because one of her favorite activities was to go to all of the sports events at the school with the booster club. Most of those have been cancelled although now they are starting to come back. Since she had COVID in November we feel a bit better about her being out and about at some of these activities and we don’t worry quite as much about her being in Boise…a city that is less stringent with their COVID protocols.
Ellie and Kate are introverts and while their lives were upended, they weren’t entirely unhappy with more time at home. Jill, on the other hand, had a much harder time. She takes after her Dad and gets her energy from being with other people. Not only that, though, but she is a self-admitted germ-o-phobe so this whole pandemic thing sent her anxiety through the roof. She probably spent far too much time reading about COVID and disinfecting every surface. She was fortunate that when the pandemic hit her trimester was almost done so her university shortened the term and they finished early. Her last term for the year was entirely online and she was even able to continue working her job because it was data entry. Amazingly she was able to continue doing game nights with her crew through some creative online wizardry. The hardest part, by far, was that she was separated from her partner Colin. They have been together since middle school and they are both SUPER careful when it comes to COVID. They were worried about mixing households so, while they were expecting to be separated for a few weeks it turned into a few months.
Jill was able to find a new job during the pandemic working for a naturopath’s office. Even though it is a health clinic the crew she works with is just as conservative as she is so she has stayed fairly safe. One of the hardest parts for Jill has been navigating her way through all the issues of keeping each other safe inside her shared bubble. Her bubble included her apartment and roommate and Colin’s apartment (and three roommates) and her workmates. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of people that want to see family, especially over the holidays. They all managed to stay together for Thanksgiving (where they tried to do all of their family traditions) but Christmas was very stressful for her. Jill and Colin spent a lot of the summer camping in the woods because then they could stay a bit further away from people. Jill was the first of all of us to get a vaccination but she still can’t imagine going back to life the way it was. I think re-entry is going to be the hardest for her.
Adding a puppy to our household has added endless entertainment. Two dogs are easier than one and we get such pleasure out of seeing the dogs wrestle and play. They have forced us to keep going outside for exercise and sunshine. It was the best thing we did all year!
As for Allen and I – we have gotten through this pandemic so well. There isn’t anybody else I’d rather quarantine with! Thank goodness he is Mr. Fun because he has helped keep everything on the lighter side.
I’ve been spending a lot of my pandemic time volunteering. Between politics and the pandemic it seemed like so much of the world was out of my control and helping my community gave me a small measure of control back. With the help of a TON of donations (almost 900) I was able to raise just under $70,000 to feed the frontline medical workers at the Swedish Hospital campus around the corner from me and paid local restaurants to do it. Since my business had been shut down it was nice to have something to do that helped so many people. Lately I have been volunteering at vaccination clinics. I can’t begin to tell you how satisfying and fun it is to help put an end to this pandemic. The people attending the clinics are all so happy to be there, despite the shots!
It will be interesting to see what unfolds the rest of the year. How many of the COVID changes will remain? How many things will we decide that we don’t need anymore? How many things do we want back right away? (Hello hugs!). I used to think I was getting more and more introverted but I truly can’t wait to see more people again! Look out…pretty soon I’m going to be a hug machine!