The last real day I remember was March 10. It was a Tuesday. I drove the 90 miles from Escondido to La Mirada to meet up with school friends. We had planned to get a coffee at a local Starbucks…which then changed to Panera Bread…which then changed to Corner Bakery Cafe. We made our way down Imperial Hwy until it become clear that no coffee shop was open for dine-in seating. So we settled for a Starbucks counter in a Vons grocery store, taking our coffee To-Go. When we walked to the parking lot, we wondered where we could go to sit and talk. It wasn’t long before someone offered, “How about a picnic table in the park?” We felt witty and smart to have remembered that good cities always have places for people to gather together.
The park was empty with tables scattered about. We settled on one near a restored Victorian home, probably the original home of a settler who made it big in this town a hundred years ago. We didn’t bother to walk the short path to learn more. If I’d only known this was going to be my last real day I would have jumped at the chance to explore that little home.
It’s been 12 weeks of life with the novel Coronavirus. We haven’t gone to the park, or the beach, the mall, Safari Park or the world-famous San Diego Zoo. We’ve rarely ventured into the grocery store, Home Depot or Costco. For many days at the beginning, we simply stayed home, receiving 2 week notifications of extensions to the shelter-in-place order. At first, I was determined to be productive. I queued up Barre 3 classes for daily exercise and “Kondo’d” the harder-to-love places in the house. I even hosted an “attic cleaning party” enticing my kids up the folding ladder with a box of donuts and juice. What a clever ruse. We stocked up on staples to “ride it out” and made the kind of meals you can make from memory…French Dip sandwiches, spaghetti, pulled pork. The kind of food sturdy people eat in times calling for fortitude.
Although resistant at first, as the weeks progressed, we started to lean into this new way of life. The four of us found places in the house where we did our “best” work: the large dining table, the bedroom-turned office-turned back to bedroom and even the back patio. Work for me became all about Zoom meetings, learning to be a better listener and pick up on cues based on seating arrangements and backgrounds. The kids finished out their school semesters during this time…not an ideal way to do school but we’re grateful it’s over for now and we can simply relax and experience summer break in this new strange liminal space.
The state of California has slowly moved into Phase 3 (of 4) of the Resilience Roadmap. Part of me is so happy that things are loosening up. Masks must be worn in grocery and retail stores and restaurants are beginning to offer table service. But part of me is going to miss being sequestered in my own private space at 28124 Par View Ct. These past 12 weeks I’ve enjoyed a work crew create our new front landscape and I’ve watched the lillies and zinnias bloom. I’ve seen some great movies and documentaries and managed to not open one puzzle box during this whole time. Tim and I have taken up walking on a regular basis; usually doing the 2 1/2 mile loop around the golf course. We recently discovered 25 miles of hiking trails just beyond our neighborhood. We’ve got a good rhythm and I’m fairly confident that we could continue for quite some time if the pandemic called for it. How quickly we can adjust to a new way of life.
And I wonder…If I knew it would all change tomorrow, what would I do? I’d like to say I’d jump at the change to explore something unusual but more likely, I’d want to sit with my friends, have a drink and talk about life.
And, I’m pretty good with that.