My first ‘the new normal’ post went live two months ago, almost to this exact day. At that point, we had already been, more or less, locked down for around two weeks. From my desk then, I remember feeling frustration that more people weren’t taking it seriously and despair that I wouldn’t be able to make the trip back to Pennsylvania to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday with my entire family. I had been tracking this virus since we left South Africa at the end of February, so it sort of blew my mind that no one else was realizing the severity. The last sentence of that post left me wondering aloud – just how long will this go on?
I’m a realist (both optimistic and pessimistic at once), so I knew in my heart that the writing was on the wall – this was going to hunker down within our communities and stay.
In my second ‘the new normal’ post, I had found my at-home groove and recognized the privilege I inherently have to both stay at home and maintain my job. It left me feeling incredibly guilty if I’m being honest [I still feel this way]. The impact of COVID had weaved its way into my life with the death of a former co-worker and several positive test results among friends, one of which landed them in the ICU.
And I guess all of that brings me to today, where we’ve officially been “safer at home” ten weeks here in Hawaii. Dane continues to go to work at the hospital and I continue to work from home, which is more or less our normal, but it’s not that way for so many. While we are one of the states with the lowest (comparatively) influx of cases, the reverberations of the virus are tangible.
In late April, our beaches opened for exercise only, meaning you had to be in the water or running/walking to be there. In early May, our beaches opened for sitting, but only for members of the same household. Our local government has continued to stress the importance of social distancing, but I’ll be honest – people are over it and doing whatever the f*ck they want, which feels a little bit like a slap in the face. Why did we just stay at home for ten weeks, just to go out and host parties/BBQs/get togethers at the first chance of good weather with not an inkling of social distancing? Anyway…
Dane and I have been talking a lot about how things that felt so normal in the past seem like a far cry right now. Things we would do in everyday life like having a bite of someone’s food/a sip of a drink at a restaurant (going to a restaurant), sitting in a movie theater, using a public restroom, shaking someone’s hand, trying on clothes in a fitting room….Had anyone told me at the turn of 2020 that I would think twice about doing any of the above, I might have laughed. Some days it feels like a parallel universe.
We’ve also been talking about how the return to a sense of normalcy is going to take time, at least for us. Right now, any outing we do takes thoughtful planning – is it open? how crowded do you think it will be? have the hours changed? And while I don’t have an issue making a smart plan, it certainly takes away any aspect of a carefree life, or doing anything on a whim, and that often feels like more trouble than it’s worth.
I’ve gotten a few questions about the future of traveling for us and I’ll be honest – the first place we plan on going is to visit our parents. If nothing else, this pandemic has really put into focus the importance of the people in our lives and has narrowed in on the sheer distance we are from them right now. As it stands, Hawaii is mandating a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving (tourists or residents) to the state, so until that goes away (and the DoD travel ban is lifted), we will both be staying put.
I’m sorry, I feel like I’m rambling a little bit here, which is honestly like a metaphor for my life, so let’s hop into my bright spots + cloudy moments…
The beaches opening for sitting and reading a book has been an amazing highlight. Dane and I both feel very lucky and grateful to have that as a “get outside” option. It’s done wonders for our mental health each weekend and finding an empty spot has sort of become a game.
Dane has perfected the art of craft cocktails. He finds a new one to try out each week and has been serving them up for Friday date nights at home. I think this one was a pineapple raspberry tequila mixture and it was delicious!
Regular barre classes have been great for my mental health, which is a weird admission for me. I talked a little bit about why group fitness isn’t my jam, but how it’s been great for me during this time, so I’m happy to report that virtual classes are still something I look forward to almost every day.
The continuing arrival of tourists to Hawaii despite the mandatory 14-day quarantine. This has been disheartening on a level that I struggle to put into words. Our state enforced quarantine means you get off the plane and go to your hotel/rental/friend’s house. You cannot leave for food, hiking, the beach..none of it. Police have been using social media to find and arrest people who aren’t abiding, but it’s still happening. The Islands have done a tremendous job of keeping our curve flat, but the virus still exists here. Please, please, please do not come to Hawaii right now.
I genuinely hope everyone is staying healthy and coping as best as we all know how right now and transitioning into a new phase of normal, whatever that might look like. Know that if your mental health is suffering, you can always reach out to me. Be well, everyone.