September 1, 2020
Nearly six months ago, I started writing this blog. I had a house suddenly full of young people. The world outside was newly locked down. And I felt sick in a way I’d never experienced before. There was so much to think about, so many novel things to consider, so many worries to contend with that I’d never before imagined, that I thought my head would explode. Whenever I find myself in a situation like that, I always do the same thing: I write.
Usually, I write longhand in a journal. But this time felt different. I had an inkling that what I was experiencing, pretty much everyone else around me was too, in one form or another. I thought if I wrote publicly about what was going on here, in my suddenly-crowded house, it might strike a chord with others, going through similar things in their over-peopled homes, and their under-stimulated lives. That seemed to be a correct assumption. It was so gratifying to hear, over and over, “the exact same thing is happening to me,” or “thank you for putting that into words.”
You’re welcome. And thank you.
Now, almost half a year later, the pandemic has not let up, though I am grateful every day for the expanded possibilities afforded me by a simple piece of cloth or paper stretched over my mouth and nose.
Also, I’m finally well again — at least, from the illness-that-tested-negative-for-Covid. I continue to recover from Lyme, but happily for me, that’s a much less dramatic, lower-key affair.
But here’s the main thing: my boys are both back at school.
Liam has settled into his fraternity a few blocks south of U.C. Berkeley. School started on Zoom last Wednesday, and his computer science class, he reports, is even harder than he expected. Today, he used his student ID to score a coronavirus test, just for the heck of it, because Cal wants to test everyone who lives in a fraternity and sorority, repeatedly. There’s been no cases of the virus in his house, that they know of anyway, though young men have lived there without a break all year long. His latest campaign is to persuade me it’s safe for him to come home for Thanksgiving, move back in without quarantining, and head back up north to finish out the semester. All the other kids are doing it, he says. I’m a no for right now, but we’ll see how long my resolve holds out against the image of my son, eating turkey by himself in the gross frat house, because I’m too neurotic to let him in the door.
Eli, for his part, managed to fly into Detroit on a red-eye, catch an Uber Friday morning and land at the Toyota dealership in Ann Arbor, 30 minutes away. Ninety minutes of document signing later, and he is now the proud co-owner (with yours truly) of a 2017 Toyota Corolla. He and his buddy Juan have an apartment in East Lansing, a mile and a half away from the Michigan State campus, for which they’ve purchased, among other items, two bar stools, a Magic Bullet for making smoothies, and $24 worth of flatware. If anyone knows of a second-hand couch in good shape, for sale in Central Michigan, they’re in the market. Oh, yeah, and classes begin tomorrow.
That returns us to where we began, on March 15, with just the three of us: me, Sarah and Bill.
With a doctor for a husband, I never thought I’d have a spouse who worked from home. But thanks to technology and a pandemic, he’s now often home half the day, doing telemedicine from the desk in our family room. As for Sarah, she’s home all day, just like me. She’s back in school, and has taken over the desk in Liam’s room, with plans to move to the un-air-conditioned garage office (the one that used to belong to me) once we can be sure the summer heat has permanently subsided. So I’m still in the dining room, but I like it here, as it turns out. The light is good, it’s never too hot or too cold, and between the bustle in the house and the dog walkers and bike riding kids on the street behind me, I don’t miss a moment of the action.
So I think, finally, this family of mine is settling into a new normal. And that feels like a good moment to pause writing this blog. Of course, if anything dramatic happens, particularly anything coronavirus-related, I’ll post again. Or, if I just feel like I have something pressing to say.
But for now, I have articles to report. A novel to write. And a life to live in a world in which the coronavirus is no longer novel, but an everyday fact, distressing and annoying and confounding, but not going away any time soon.
I may be back again, or maybe I won’t. We’ll see. But in the meantime, I hope to stay well. I hope you stay well. Thank you so much for reading this blog. It’s been a joy to write it, for me and for you.