So many people likened the preparations for isolation to that of a hurricane. I can see some of the similarities, but to me, this is nothing like a hurricane. When a hurricane gets close enough, there’s a pretty solid timeline involved. Some have changed course or been delayed by a day or two, sure, but for the most part you know when it’s going to most impact you. You know what you need to do. You batten down the hatches, putting up shutters or plywood. You test your generator if you have one, you remove you lawn furniture and anything that could become a projectile. The instructions are pretty clear and you know the risks involved if you don’t do these things. Yes, people wait until the last minute and some items become scarce. It’s generally water and plywood right before the storm.
This was so different. I may just have been in the dark, I generally avoid the news, much like I am currently avoiding leaving the house. I heard about the virus. I work for a healthcare company so we were hearing grumblings early on. When we had a company meeting they told us we could work from home if we wanted to. I went to the office the next day. I already worked from home one day a week and I didn’t like it. I end up working way more than my scheduled number of hours. On my next scheduled work from home day, I was told not to go back to the office until further notice. It was so sudden and not exactly what I wanted to do but I understood. This was about a good week before my city or state recommended it. We went to do our weekly grocery shopping and I was dumfounded that the stores were out of toilet paper and water. We had plenty of both, it was just an unusual combination of things to be out of.
When the bands of a hurricane are upon us, I am worried. I’m worried that something may break loose on the roof. I’m worried we will lose power, or have to put in some kind of insurance claim. I worry for our safety but I also know that I always picture the worst, and remind myself that we are safe. Our home is always secure and we always prepare properly. I know deep down that we are safe. During this there are so many unknowns. D2 and I stay home except for the occasional car ride or walk around the block, and my morning run. Darin does all the grocery shopping and picking up of food. I worry he will get sick. I worry he will be a carrier and D2 will get sick. I worry that we may have some underlying condition that we don’t even know about that could be triggered by this thing and it could take a life. There is no right amount of preparation that can be done for that. None. You can do everything right, and still be gravely affected by it.
In the midst of a hurricane there is that brief amount of time when everything quiets. The eye of the storm is always something that absolutely blows my mind. We had a front porch that was surrounded in iron bars and screening where I grew up. During the eye of hurricane Andrew, my father and I went out onto the porch. It was moments after the wind was howling and we could hear things slamming into the shutters. Here we were just standing on our front porch. It was quiet and dark. We were out there just for a few minutes and we could see and hear the rain approaching. In that moment you are quite literally surrounded by death. That’s almost what it feels like right now to me. I walk outside and all seems quiet. No cars driving by, no major activity, though I do see more people out for walks. For half a second it might even seem calm but there is way too much tension in the air for calm.
When hurricane Andrew finally passed, we had no power. We had a gas stove and gas water heater. Having a warm shower and hot meal was like a luxury. We also had a generator for the refrigerator. The power remained off for 3 long weeks. Back then, we weren’t’ as dependent on the internet so I don’t even remember when that came back, but 3 weeks felt like an eternity to wait for power. During this social distancing, we have all the luxuries we could possibly want. We have power, we have the internet, streaming movies and shows. We have little robot assistants to turn off our lights, audio books and social media. We have hot water, and a fully functional kitchen. What we don’t have, is smiling faces, at least not ones that anyone can see behind the masks we now have to wear. What we don’t have, is that coworker’s funny story by the water cooler. What we don’t have, no matter how hard we try via social media and zoom meetings, is meaningful contact with people outside our own housemates.
If there is one thing I could love about a hurricane, it’s coming outside the morning after the storm passes. You walk outside, and the air seems cleaner than it has ever been. Everything feels fresh, renewed, cleansed by Mother Earth’s own hand. Neighbors always seem to come out right around the same time. They wave, smile, and ask how each other faired the storm. It’s an experience shared among strangers. Almost overnight the stores are full, supplies are available and the cleanup efforts are in full swing.
This is different. There was, and still is, no clear timeline as to how long things will be this way. I wonder if we will even be able to pinpoint when it’s all truly “over”. Restrictions will gradually ease. People will eventually go back to work. Life will eventually fall into whatever the new normal will be. At some point, someone will say “hey, remember that COVID thing” and people will share their stories. Kids that are old enough will remember, “back when they did online school”. Parents will remember how tough it was to juggle work from home, kids online school, trying to find toilet paper, and pay the bills.
When will then be now?
(Please tell me you got that reference)