Shelter in Place

Sheltering in place in California
Sheltering in place in California
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

What happens when the world is forced from its routine? Forced to slow down or halt completely. Forced to speed up. Ripped from routine that sustains life — or at least livability. I don’t know. I don’t think any of us do. What I do know is that it’s taken a global pandemic to shake me out of my own small, silent routines.

So many humans right now are worried for their survival. For the survival of their loved ones. For the survival of their livelihoods or those of their communities. It feels self-serving to think about anything other than the gut-wrenching horror so many of our people — and we are all each other’s people — are living.

But then there are the shaky videos of Italians singing to each other across courtyards and raising instruments together up and down packed windows in empty alleys. There are the impromptu concerts and there are the acts of kindness. And maybe it’s OK that those of us seemingly not directly threatened are able to stop and take stock. Let the bare bones reality set in that while most of us will be alright, none of us, of this, will ever be the same again.

Over the past five days, I’ve gone from a full-time working parent to a full-time working parent and a full-time parent. I’ve spent more time with my son than I have since I came back from parental leave (which is such a gift, but simultaneously scratches those internal windows of my brain with nagging guilt). I’ve watched him wallow in mud and peer through earth-caked hands while opening and closing his fingers in wonder at the clay encasing them. I’ve watched less television than I have in years, and I find myself sitting night after night in conversation with my partner playing each other songs that give us hope over the big speaker in the living room.

I’ve FaceTimed with my parents twice this week while Jude played a hide and seek game that spanned through a computer screen and a thousand miles. I’ve never had so many people tell me to ‘take care’ while checking out at the grocery store, paying for a takeout sandwich, or grabbing my mail … and really, really mean it. I’ve had conversations with small business owners in our community I’d never spoken to before as I placed online orders and wished for them with all my heart to ‘hang in there.’

I’ve worried about a recession worse than the one that fought so hard not to welcome me into its workforce a decade ago. I’ve watched as 70-something of my colleagues and executives signed into a video conference dedicated to dialoguing about anxiety and depression while Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Rainbow’ played over someone’s fuzzy speaker. I’ve cried tears of thankfulness that I work for a company that livestreamed a delightful Irishman called “Rainbow Phil” to lead a St. Paddy’s Day sing-a-long for all the kids at home with tired parents watching on.

I’ve felt so much heartache and devastating thankfulness for the human race over the last week. We fuck up a lot. But I love us. I love us because of how we show up for each other during the greatest threats. I’m frustrated that it sometimes takes the greatest threats to shake us out of our routines and remind us to show up for each other. I’m thankful that we continue to fuck up and show up. So here’s to a few more weeks of showing up (without physically showing up).

And to channel Rainbow Phil when he raised a pint of Guinness somewhere around the time he launched into ‘Baby Shark,’ here’s to taking care of our people and shaking up those tired old routines.

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