Spring Break was approaching. We had lots of plans. My mom was moving from Arizona into an assisted living residence near me. My uncle would bring a load of things on Saturday. We would take my kids out of school a day early before Spring Break and bring my mom over the following Friday. We could spend the intervening week preparing the room, and since the kids would be on Spring Break, we’d have lots of time to visit and hang out and help her get used to being in a new place.
3/11 We were hearing talk of virus and quarantine. On Wednesday, we talked in our worship committee about ways to gather safely, about how we would celebrate communion the next time we celebrated (not until April 5).
3/13 On Friday, we threw out all our carefully thought out plans and cancelled Sunday. Also on Friday, we got notification from the school that the students would not go back until after Spring break (that date keeps getting moved further into the future). And on Friday I learned that my community college students would get an extra week of Spring break as teachers prepared to move classes online.
3/14 On Saturday, my uncle came and we did move my mom’s furniture in. I borrowed a 15-year-old from church to help. The facility had just started quarantine procedure: they took our temps and we filled out a form. 15 probably shouldn’t have been allowed (officially no one under 18 was supposed to come in).
3/15 Everything moved so quickly that we didn’t have anything in place for Sunday. I wrote a note that was sent out, offering streaming services from other communities. It was an odd Sunday morning. My colleague and I met at the church, to be there in case anyone didn’t get word we were cancelling. My daughter spent Sunday night at her friend’s house to celebrate the friend’s 13th birthday. We didn’t fully understand what was going on.
3/16 On Monday, I started getting worried about being able to bring my mom from Arizona. I called my aunt who was with her and I called the assisted living facility, and we moved things up from Friday to Tuesday.
3/17 The kids and I didn’t go to Arizona but my aunt, my uncle, and their cousin drove my mom over. My aunt and I were allowed to go in and help her get settled. We saw my mom Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, they reluctantly let us go in. That was the last time I have seen my mom in person, but we’ve been FaceTiming and texting.
3/19 My spouse had been going in to work every day. On Thursday, he finally got his contract to work mostly from home. Out of their department of 25, they have 5 going in each day, staggered so no one shares offices. My spouse’s office day is Friday.
Since then, we’ve grown used to our quarantine life. The girl has watched a lot of TV and listened to a lot of podcasts. The boy has played a lot of FortNite. They’ve played MineCraft together and several games of monopoly. The girl has baked cupcakes. The boy has made hamburgers and chocolate chip cookies. They’ve both moved naturally to night owl hours, so I have the quiet of the morning to myself. My spouse comes in to our office here at 7:30 and emerges around 5 (coming out to grab breakfast and lunch). We are figuring out how to share the home office (mostly I’ve moved my stuff to the other room. That may change on Monday when I have a scheduled class time.) My spouse has picked up take out. We’ve each gone shopping, sparingly, carefully. We’ve had Zoom meetings, Circle and Session. It works better, I think, for the chit chat catching up meeting than for the trying-to-make-good-and-hard-decisions meeting, but we got through. I’ve been part of recording a couple of videos for worship. The first time we sat together in the chancel. The second time we stayed several feet away from one another. I’ve reluctantly restructured my class to online discussions. I will offer Zoom for students who wish to check in that way, but it’s too difficult (and privileged) to simply move what we once did in a circle in the classroom to squares on the computer screen.
We are privileged. We have devices and good internet. We tend to be homebodies anyway. The stores still have food (empty ramen shelves, empty TP/Paper towel/Napkin shelves). I had bought a pack of TP because we were running low a week or so before the hoarding began. My mom is safe and being well-cared-for even if this isn’t the ideal way we would have moved her. I have a robust Zoom account thanks to the college. I’m teaching just one 200-level class with students who are at the top of the CC game so to speak.
I feel a little odd even posting this. We are in this bubble right now as we continue to live in the poorest large city in the US. The church is working on keeping the food closet going without endangering 75-year-old volunteers. We’re trying to pay our childcare staff though the center is closed. We’re trying to keep faith with our community from our homes. I don’t know. It feels a little desperate and yet my little family is tucked away and glad. That might change when we start to do school of some sort, but my kids are old enough and I am me enough that we don’t have these pretty scheduled charts about how we’re moving through our days. For now, we’re pretty much playing it by ear and savoring this time alone together.