Personal Journal | 1 - My Pandemic Lifeline

Pandemic Personal Journal

dawn huntington artwork tea and journal

Over the past several years, I've gotten back into a habit that took a dive when I had my babies - journaling. And during this pandemic? I've been writing up a storm. I work through so many feelings through words written on a page and there have been oh so many feelings in these months of Coronavirus. I've really found myself during this time. After too many months of feeling irrationally  irritable, I began cutting back on distractions (social media, binging series I've already seen several times through, booze, Cheddar Chex Mix). This has forced me to start looking inward rather than always looking outward comparing myself, my life, my home, my whatever. It feels like for the first time in my life I know what I want out of this life - what I want to do, to make. to leave behind. One of those is sharing my written musings. I'm still not quite sure how or how much or even if it is appropriate in this space - but I'll never figure it out if I don't take that first step. This blog entry is that first step. From here I want it to grow organically wherever it may choose to wander. I'm along for the journey just as much as anyone possibly reading this.

As I roam through the pages of my journal, I'll start with a time when COVID19 was only a looming threat on the horizon. I suspect I'll add some present day commentary - it won't just be a word-for-word transcription because so much has changed in such a short amount of time. Like I said, this is a journey. It's high time for me to take the first step with all the things I've been waiting for the right time, the proper planning, or the igniting motivation to begin. I suppose the daily reminder of death can have that effect. Let's get this ball rolling...

I think back on early March and chuckle over how naïve we were to the possibility of the world as we knew turning completely upside down. I can clearly picture the last time Tom and I ate at a restaurant. It was March 12th and it was pouring rain. I had to pop into the mall to take measurements for a retail spot I was going to consign in a new shop. (Clearly, that didn't happen.) Tom had a gift card to Yard House, so he came along to see the space and enjoy a little mid-week lunch date. We plopped into a booth by the window, marveling at the amount of water coming down. It felt cleansing. I actually thought maybe this could wash away the virus. There was only one confirmed case in Murrieta, about 30 miles away. Regardless, I diligently wiped down the table with a disinfectant wipe, thinking people probably thought I was nuts. We were shocked by the breaking news that Disneyland was closing its gates out of Coronavirus concerns. This was beginning to feel like a real thing. I ate, what now seems like, the world's best grilled cheese and tomato bisque. The waitress shared that she lived in Hawaii for a short time and was very bubbly. Eighties music videos played on screens mounted above the bar. We would pause our conversation and just stare with fascination at certain songs. After lunch we walked back through the mall and I was shocked to see so many little kids playing in the toddler play area. Am I nuts to be so concerned about this thing? To be fearful of this invisible threat potential lurking on every surface?

It's kind of bizarre to look back and read those entries. They make me feel the way I do when I read journal entries from twenty years ago - smiling sympathetically at the past version of me,  knowing all I know now. This time just six months wiser, not twenty years.

Take this entry, for example:

3-11 | WED

Went to Smart & Final yesterday to pick up a roasted chicken for dinner. The toilet paper aisle was completely empty and people had carts filled with canned goods. Seeing all this hoarding going on made me feel like maybe I should be doing the same. The panic is almost as contagious as the virus! I think we're safe from the worst happening here, but I don't want my lack of response to put my family in a desperate situation. How far is too far? This thing is beginning to make me nervous. I worked yesterday, but no meditation, no walk, no keto. I need to be comforted.

 

I'm worried about our trip. Things seem to be escalating. Universities are closing and sending students home, events like Coachella are being postponed, and even sporting events are taking place without anyone in the stands. In three weeks Hawaii may very well close its borders. Flights may be cancelled. Who knows? Imagining things getting that bad makes me spiral. I need to do my best to avoid panic. If that means stocking up - if that would make me feel better and more prepared - well then maybe I should just do it.

 

If our trip has to be cancelled it would certainly be disappointing - but maybe spending all that money wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Can't imagine this country would go into complete lock down mode, but it also feels like anything is possible at this point. I just want to be prepared. Organize the garage shelf for emergency preparedness and stock up on our essentials. I'll do the preparations and then get it out of my mind. That's the plan today. Nothing else to write. Feel like I should spring into action.

That feels like so long ago. Oh the luxury of believing that living in the United States would somehow shield us from anything really horrible happening. Today I was journaling, again, about - how far is too far? Like most things, that thought circled right back around, but with a twist. In March that concern was directed toward stocking up on canned goods and emergency supplies. What a simple (and delightful) dilemma to have! Now it's about leaving the house.

For the record, I am totally and completely 100% cool with staying at home. What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be at home. This period of social distancing has introduced me to methods of acquiring essentials that I will probably employ for the rest of my life. I am elated to avoid shopping and running errands. Once and always a homebody for sure. I'd just never really allowed myself to embrace it completely before. Now that I've tasted it there's no going back.

But I feel awful for my boys. They want to be with friends. The friends are hanging out at shopping malls, going to the beach, and working out together at the gym. We've allowed a few social interactions in recent weeks, with stipulations. They must be outside, they must remain distanced, and they must wear masks the entire time. They keep attempting to push the boundaries and it kills me to say no. Are we taking this too far?

We've come all this way - six months of staying at home, avoiding social gatherings, and being diligent about wearing face coverings. How awful would it be to let our guard down now - out of exhausted defeat to the relentless requests of two teenagers - and catch this thing? I don't think I want to live with that kind of regret. When I start to voice my frustrations with Tom, I always wind up referring to all the people I see going about their lives. I wonder if we're being fools. The other day he said, "You can go out. You can also sit in the back of a pickup truck flying down the freeway to San Diego, but you would be exposing yourself to risk. You decide if you want the risk." This made me think - there really are so many things we don't do, but could do, but don't because we can't fathom living with the risk.  I guess that's the way to look at it. Makes it a little easier, anyway.


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