One Year Later
It’s hard to believe that we are entering our 13th month of a COVID-19 infested world. (I know it’s been longer for other people and other nations, but I will always consider the NBA shutting down as my personal WTF turning point. That happened on March 11th of 2020.)
As you may have noticed, we haven’t posted one thing to this site since last spring. How to write the void? is a question I’ve read elsewhere and it continues to resonate with me. This last year has felt like a giant homogenous blur. Very little has distracted us from our routine of rotating through the three levels of our townhouse. Upstairs for sleeping, downstairs for working, ground floor for eating and watching every new thing on Netflix. We’ve done nothing worth writing about, at least not in the way that I am used to sharing here. Even in the wonderful moments of this past year (and there have been some!) I still have generally felt numb about everything.
The days immediately post 3/11 were wrought with much anxiety, not only from the fear of the illness itself, but we watched the revenue from our business drop by ~80%. I had to say some very painful goodbyes to people who have worked with us for a long time. We went from being so incredibly busy to having so little to do. And with the grief and fear came deep helplessness about it all. How do you survive as a business that relies almost solely on tourism when the world is shut down?
It felt like we should be doing something, but there was nothing to be done in those early days (and our were brains consumed by processing the threat of the pandemic, anyway). So, we initially focused on simply distracting ourselves, a strategy I also relied on when going through my cancer treatments. The only way to get through it is to get through it, so it is best (for me, personally) not to dwell. Beyond controlling our own little environment and actions (yes, we were toilet paper hoarders), there was nothing for us to do but wait it out. Back then, I don’t think that any of us guessed that a year later we would still be waiting.
We filled our time with puzzles, games, lots of TV, baking (only a wee bit, of course, as yeast and flour were hard to come by), and each wall of our home got its turn of being blankly stared at. We replaced our schedule at the gym with a Nintendo game, of all things. I tried to read but couldn’t focus. Every task of the little work we had left to do seemed insurmountable, and I don’t know how Pete or I mustered the ability to get anything done.
I did find much-needed emotional relief every few days when I tuned into Ben Hibbard’s solo shows online; the familiar songs and his soothing voice caused an eruption of emotions that bubbled just under my surface. I shut myself in the bedroom and let the tears flow while I mimicked the words I knew.
Then spring came, and with it, some relief to be able to venture outside in non-freezing temps. We were fortunate to spend a month house-sitting in Canmore over the summer, which blessed us with oodles of mountain therapy and a pleasantly altered routine. We spent as much time as we could outdoors, and when indoors, we plowed ourselves back into work, feeling reenergized by our new environment. A slight pivot in our offering brought in a couple of new clients from outside of tourism.
It wasn’t fun work, it wasn’t inspiring work, and one project even morphed into a total nightmare to the point of inciting a full-on panic attack. We ended that relationship in July and are still fighting over money owed. From now until forever, that business is only referred to as COVIDclient, as in, we never would have taken it on if it wasn’t for COVID and some desperate efforts to keep our business afloat.
As those summer days turned to fall, work began to pick up with a couple of more new clients, which allowed us to bring some of our people back to work with us, and offered another welcome distraction. We needed it. Going into winter, we feared a resurgence of the virus and with it, many long and dark days spent locked-down at home. We weren’t wrong.
We’re emerging on the other side of the frosty season, and when I think back on it, the days are blurring once again. What did we do besides rotate through our townhome floors? Very nearly nothing. Besides a mountain-escape for Christmas (which was still spent mostly locked-down) and the odd weekend outing, our days have become monotonous. For this couple who used to thrive on the frequent and drastic changes that nomadic travel enabled for nearly eight continuous years, this has brought on a debilitating kind of misery.
I know, I know, my anguish is not unique, nor is it to the devastating scale of others. We are certainly grateful for our health and our savings that served to sustain us. Our families have also thankfully not been touched by the virus, although we did have some close calls – just a couple of months ago we watched infections and deaths rise inside the home where Pete’s Dad resides. We were this close to pulling him out of there, and then vaccines came just in time. He was finally just released from 84 days of isolation in his room. His rising spirits as of late have been uplifting for all of us around him, which I tell you, we need.
Throughout this past year, I’ve told myself that I shouldn’t feel so down about all of this, things could always be worse, right? But that is not fair either – do we equivocally tell ourselves, when we’re celebrating or riding an emotional high, not to be happy because it could still always be better?
This online vaccine calculator for Canada states that Pete and I will be fully immunized sometime between mid-June and late July. We are both cautiously optimistic, knowing that so much can happen between now and then (production delays, issues with the roll-out, and never mind the destiny of the variants that are yet unknown). I am facing this – as I do many things in my life – with low expectations so as not to be too disappointed. I’d love for us to book an international trip for later this year but will wait.
And in all honesty, I am less eager about travel than I am about just getting to share meals with our family. To hug my nieces and nephews. To go to a movie. To cheers in a restaurant with friends. To meet new people and shake their hands. I am sure that those simple but transcendent pleasures will be enough to reassure me that this last year in lockdown – to preserve the safety of my family and hopefully yours – was absolutely worth it. The rest will come later.