Changing Season, Changing Guard

I’ve had the same conversation over the phone with multiple friends, more so thinking out loud than really saying much of anything.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year since Covid lockdown started.”

“I know, right?”

“It feels like we’ve been in a pandemic for much longer. Maybe it’s because I have aged a decade in that timespan.”

“The days are moving quickly and slowly all at once. I’m ready for spring, but I’m also not. Ya know?”

As casually as it has rolled off my tongue again and again, it’s all true.

When the last few weeks of winter were dwindling I felt an urgency to complete more projects around the house. I took pride in using power tools to create and install a simple book shelf. I painted bathroom vanity cabinets and kitchen cabinets, entire rooms and several doors. I framed and hung art, mostly prints related to my love of national parks. A small patio made of pavers was somehow conjured. I weeded and moved yards of swamp-like muck. Plants that I been collecting for months from garage sales and nurseries were finally potted.

There is still disarray and grime, but it is much less so than before. I will be especially grateful when I can replace the abhorrent, stained and dirty carpet with new vinyl wood flooring.

Since March 11, 2020 I have had one full 24 hours off from the totality of my three jobs. It was precious and wholly appreciated, but obviously not ample enough.

With a veil of disbelief, I am happy to share that next month I will be able to take eleven days off.

Eleven solid, back to back days.

When I put in the request mid-December I didn’t exactly expect an enthusiastic response, but was still disappointed when my assumptions proved true. I had to ask a second and third time before I was taken seriously. By the end of the month it was clear that I wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The holidays had caused yet another Covid surge and it would be awhile before infection rates decreased and it felt a little safer to make plans. I was okay with waiting. I wasn’t okay with the unsettling, familiar feeling that I would be let down by help.

A couple of weeks ago I received final confirmation that I could go ahead and start putting together a vacation for myself. Privately I had a moment to weep, the dam of security could finally allow for a flood, but afterward I was almost indifferent. Well, more so numb. The thing I hadn’t let myself daydream about for nearly a year was coming to fruition and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Where the hell would I go? For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have no idea which direction I’m going.

Although I will be fully vaccinated by the time my vacation commences, I would like to adhere to cautious Covid guidelines. I’m not interested in being in close contact with a lot of people, going to bars, flying on an airplane, etc. Instead I will lean into what I would choose anyway: introverted travel. Hiking, camping, landscape photography, takeout and cooking on my camp stove. The most delicious of ways for me to move about the world.

With April just around the corner I have limited time to make a decision about where I will road trip to. I don’t want to travel too far or to any Covid irresponsible areas. I also need to prepare in other ways: make lists for Mom’s care, get my car fixed, do my taxes, and get the house “guest ready” i.e. clean extensively, do laundry, wash bed linens, etc.

To be in a position to do this, to be vaccinated and have willing help, and to finally feel like this country is taking strides toward the other side of pandemic fallout…it’s surreal.

I’m ready for this dream, but I wonder who I’ll be when I step away from this caregiving bubble.

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