Strange Days

I’m feeling flooded this week, struggling against the tide of uncertainty as events are canceled, universities closed or effectively moved online, countries quarantined.

Like everyone else, I waver between preparation and skepticism, between worry and calm. Do we really need giant jugs of water in our storage unit? How are the therapists that come into our home avoiding transmitting viruses from family to family? How many bags of cat litter are too many?

It feels strange to not know how to make plans for six weeks from now – or if we even should. I came into work on Monday planning to prepare for a large meeting that I chair each month. That meeting was scheduled for Tuesday. A few hours later, I was told that we would need to make alternate arrangements for that meeting. Can I plan to move March’s agenda and presentations to April? Should I be planning for May? I don’t know.

Like everyone else, I’m weighing the known against the unknown. I’m in good health, and have a job that I can do from home, and an employer that will hopefully be supportive of those arrangements (even if my kids are not); the risks for me are minimal. My kids are in good health and don’t go to school; the risks for them are minimal. But my husband is immunocompromised; the risks for him are very high. So it’s rational to be simultaneously calm and anxious, to want to do whatever I can to protect our family in the face of uncertainty while also feeling a little like I’m losing my mind.

– – – – –

I started writing this three days ago. How much has changed, and how quickly. How strange to think that a week ago, I was brokenhearted because my candidate withdrew and a hip injury meant I probably couldn’t run a race next month.

I packed up my office yesterday, ferrying my books and snacks home on my bike in perfect weather, and today am working from a desk in my son’s room, where I will be surrounded by blocks and stuffed animals and books of mythology for the indefinite future. This will be an adjustment; I am doing my best to practice kindness and patience. The latter is not my strong suit.

I went to the grocery store this morning, hoping to beat the crowds if I went early enough. I did not beat the crowds, but we all waited with our full shopping carts, concerned but calm. Everything will get worse before it gets better; for now, the sun is shining through the open windows and it feels perverse to have a care in the world.

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