I remember walking in the hallways at work, talking about my upcoming vacation to Australia and how excited I was to finally travel to another country for entertainment purposes. I remember talking with one of the people who had been with the company longer than I and knew more things. I remember joking about how people were overreacting to covid-19 and that this wasn’t different than any other flu season.
That was in February 2020.
By the time vacation started in March, things were starting to shut down. It seemed surreal, like nothing could actually impact us. From our first day in Australia until the day we left, much earlier than originally planned, the number of people on our scheduled trips dwindled. While this was wonderful for us, as it meant instead of dealing with large groups of tourists most of our tours involved just us now, it also meant that covid-19 was a real, global pandemic. I monitored the Department of State information very closely and a message came through, stating if you were a U.S. citizen travelling abroad, return home immediately or risk being stuck indefinitely.
We bought expensive plane tickets and came home the next day.
I came home and went into immediate quarantine. Thankfully, I had someone who was checking my mail and as soon as we landed at the airport, she went to the grocery store and fully stocked my fridge and pantry so that I could go directly into my house and not risk infection, either of myself or others.
This is going to sound pretty horrible, but those two weeks in quarantine were really awesome. I’ve been in a world of extremely high expectations for my entire life, where there was always work to do and never enough time to do anything. But finally, FINALLY, I was in a position where I had nothing but time to myself to work on all those really big, really time-consuming projects I’ve been meaning to do forever. I shredded 27 pounds of old paperwork. I reorganized my library. I set up my home writing and creative office. I sorted almost all my digital files and started work on really, hardcore, cleaning up my life.
About two days after my quarantine started, my state shut down. When my quarantine lifted and I was required to go into work every now and again on the rotating occupation roster, I remember having to drop off someone at the airport. It was the ultimate in dystopian future fiction. The airport was empty. The highways were empty. Parking lots were empty. No people roamed inside or out.
I can only think of a small handful of times when I’ve felt that alone and isolated in my entire life.
Time passed. People got bored and did their own thing instead of abiding by the rules designed to keep us all safe. What could have been an easily mitigated situation instead became a true global pandemic.
I feel like we haven’t learned the correct lessons from this pandemic. I feel like we should be learning that essential workers aren’t CEOs or office workers. Essential workers are people in retail and food service. Essential workers are truck drivers and delivery personnel. And yet, those who do the least, those who are already billionaires who treat their employees like garbage, increased their own worth by even more billions of dollars while people were evicted and jobless during a global pandemic.
I feel like we need to treat our educators better. I feel like we need to treat our essential personnel better. I feel like the billionaires who got even richer and didn’t do anything to help the “lesser” people should not be able to be billionaires and hoard so much wealth and so many resources. I feel like those of us who are genuine workers banded together and showed (or in some cases, learned) kindness. People created art and worked to reach out to each other in whatever way made sense to keep everyone safe.
On my list of things to do is learn how to draw. I am also taking a lot of online classes to help me switch jobs when that becomes necessary in the coming years. So here is my very first piece of digital art.
I have a lot more I could say on this but it’s getting late for me and I am likely to have a busy weekend. Maybe as I get back into the habit of writing here, my thoughts will be more coherent. Thanks for reading.