Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Back to Normal, Except Not

We're going to get back to vacation blogging in a minute because the trip was a dream (that now feels very far away), but let's leave the bright turquoise waters and get back to reality for just a moment.

Yesterday's travel went as well as we could have expected, though it was a VERY long day. Our alarm went off at 4:25 a.m. Atlantic Time for our early morning flight, after about 5 seconds of sleep in our tiny airport hotel room with two queen beds for 5 people.

We've traveled a lot, but thanks to airbnb, vrbo, hotel suites, and rollaways, we've never had to squeeze 3 kids in one bed. Luckily they were all tired enough to handle it well. Our first flight, the only one to the US that day, took off at 7 a.m. and was full and smooth. Customs at MIA was less nightmarish than expected and took up only 2 hours of our 6 hour layover. Interestingly (alarmingly?) we weren't asked a single health-related question, though Cora was asked to confirm that she was indeed Cora. (We passed this test and reentered the country.)

James spent the layover communicating cancellations to all his customers for what is normally by far his biggest swim session. This is stressful and heart-breaking to watch him do and we still have my salary to cover all our necessary expenses, I know there are those for whom these self-run business cancellations or lost working hours mean food and rent and I just hurt for them.

Three other flights from MIA to DFW were canceled, but ours, now completely full, was the last one standing. We landed early at 6:38 pm with hopes of dinner and some TV at home before bed. Except that we had to check all of our bags on the full flight. And the one bag we checked ahead of time back in Miami was put on an early plane and wound up in Terminal C hours before we landed in Terminal A. Our other four bags were allegedly with us in Terminal A, but took over 45 minutes to load. And we had departed and parked at Terminal D. The terminals at DFW are physically separate and only connected externally by intermittent buses, so it took TWO HOURS, three bus rides, splitting up, and a short period where I finally got to Terminal C, couldn't find the bag that was allegedly waiting for me there, and decided I would simply telework from my new home in Terminal C until early retirement, to meet back at the car where we parked it in D last Sunday morning. I was very, very happy to be reunited with my husband, children, and four other bags that had finally procured back in Terminal A before taking their own bus to D. I loathe DFW airport and will never check a bag again no matter how much I have to pay for reef safe sunscreen on the island.

We got home to completely empty grocery stores and my car, which we just paid over $1,000 for servicing and repairs the day before we left, sitting dead in the driveway, but also this gift basket display on the counter from two friends who had been on my whiny lost-bag text thread:

I cried actual tears. And then poured a very large glass.

James fed the kids pasta (from my Coronavirus preparation shopping I'd felt mildly ridiculous for doing in the days before we left) and I wiped off everything we had with us in the airport with Lysol wipes, including shoes, bags, suitcases- everything. And every surface they had touched in the house. And made everyone strip to wash their clothes immediately. We are in full self-quarantine for at least 7 days and then social distancing for as long as necessary thereafter. Sometime just before midnight, after we had unpacked and a very sweet neighbor had dropped off homemade beef stew to welcome us home (dinner tomorrow!), I finished a Love is Blind episode on my phone while taking a scalding hot bath (my first bath since leaving home and ohmygod I missed them). (Also that show is SO not me- I've never even seen an episode of The Bachelor, but I saw enough twitter memes that seemed funny to make me wish I understood them, so I downloaded it for travel and now I a obsessed. I have two episodes to go and am sneaking them in when James and the kids aren't round. Which will now be rarely.) I was then unconscious for several hours.

New office/folding table

Today began Day 1 or Quarantine, Working From Home, Home School with Professor Dad, and Not Being on Vacation and it went well. I set up a folding table in our sun room to be my dedicated work space. Maggie, reunited with her family and exhausted from doggy camp, has been preparing for quarantine her whole life.

I did have a tear-filled, rage-fueled, anxiety-induced meltdown with (at?) James at about 5:00 p.m. that involved me full-on sobbing for reasons I can't even articulate, but you know, all in an extrovert's day of quarantining with Type A perfectionist tendencies, 350 unread return-to-work emails, 6 back-to-back conference calls, her husband, and 3 children who have had only each other as playmates for ten days already.

And the day really did go well. My calls started early, so James sat down with the kids to make a schedule for this first transition day back. He made another attempt at fresh produce at another local store during their reading block and it made me smile to see their chosen locations/positions around the living room.

James scored a few fresh things at our local Kroger and we made lunch. The kids had PE time, which meant riding bikes alongside James as he ran 3 miles through the neighborhood. After that, and while I was still on calls and giving death stares to anyone who tried to ask me questions ("YOUR DAD IS RIGHT THERE!"), the kids wrote letters to their four great-grandparents who live in a retirement community that is currently on lock-down. The results were amazing and even though I totally melted down later with/at James because of underlying simmering anxieties about divisions of labor and my job responsibilities, these letters warm my heart and are the perfect intermission while we reenter life here before I can get back to travel blogging:

Landon and Claire chose to type theirs, with separate illustrations, and I just had to memorialize them before we mail them off. We miss our great-grands and hope they stay safe and healthy.

After the meltdown/praising of the day's writing assignments I baked Beer Bread from scratch and Landon and I ate half the loaf straight out of the oven standing up over the sink. It was incredible and so easy. Go make some today/tomorrow/whenever.

I'm going to bed now- honestly I think half of my emotional breakdown was just exhaustion. I don't sleep well when we travel and I woke up on Atlantic Time at 5:30 a.m. this morning despite going to bed close to 1. I've made work to do lists with my next day's tasks broken down into digestible chunks. The kids have an incredible dad who can coach just as well out of the water as in and while it sucks a lot that his pool is closed, it does allow us the enormous benefit of a parent with time to parent/teach while schools are closed, something so many others don't have. I'm going to have to make an effort to text and call friends- I do very, very badly when socially isolated and I can already see that risk factor looming. Our vacation was incredible, but it was already pretty isolated and usually I'm buoyed on the return trip home by the thought of seeing friends and coworkers and this time, it's just me and a folding table desk and my rage at this administration's purposeful and harmful delay in responding to the Coronavirus "hoax" that is necessitating much of this.

But I'm excited about the kids new "school" schedule tomorrow with James. I'm hoping to start my work early and be done in time to participate. I love thinking of ideas for them to research at dinner and can't wait to hear the results of their "business plan project" they started tonight with James. Things will be okay and we're very lucky, but it's been quite the interesting post-vacation reentry to "normal" life.

P.S. If you want to see the report and numbers that Trump's team and other community leaders saw that finally got them to change their stance on this virus, a link to the report and a summary here. It's terrifying. The governor of Maryland was interviewed this morning about how they still don't have any testing kits for patients and are desperately trying to develop their own. Nurses on the west coast are having to see patients without masks and are trying to make their own from office supplies. The US has done less testing than any other developed country and our response has been flat footed and slow, but hopefully this will change/is changing now.


  1. So glad your family made it home safely! Love the letters to the great grandparents. :-)

    I am so sorry your HR department sent that infuriating email. It would have made me upset as well.

    I just can't even with our country's leadership. It makes me want to cry.

    *virtual hug*

  2. I'm glad you're home safely. I've been watching this space :) I am a ball of anxiety -- my daughter has colitis, and has endured 5 surgeries in the past 3 years, including a bout with c.diff in one hospital stay. I'm so worried that people who don't take quarantine seriously will infect her. My husband works in health care, so we are not even seeing her to avoid infecting her. I strongly recommend meditating and yoga. And walks. Lots and lots of walks with deep breathing and happy music.Some neighbours have been putting kids drawings in their windows to cheer each other up. That makes me tear up all the time.

  3. Thank you for sharing that report. Terrifying!!!!

  4. Ugh, as an HR manager, just hearing about that email filled me with white hot rage. I'm also in a dual career family that is attempting (kind of poorly) to rotate work from home with an absence of childcare for our girls. Fortunately, my company is showing as much empathy and flexibility as they can.

    On the personal side, it is reassuring to hear we're all struggling. We will get through it but thanks for writing, as always.

  5. "Your dad is right there!" Ahahahahaha . . . sigh. Right there with you.

  6. In Spain people are renting out their dogs so others can take a walk, and a woman took her turtle on a walk to leave the house, a guy walked a plushie (yep).

    We are not renting our adorable chihuahua :-) and as a family we get along really well, whew! I will have to take extra vitamins D to compensate lack of sunshine.

    Haven't left the condo since Fri and we have no exterior views :-) For me this is normally a plus to avoid street noise, but I would like to see a tree. Thanks YouTube for nature videos and audio.

  7. I know! I feel you there with how the administration is handling it and this is so hard. Solidarity.