We woke up to the sound of the ocean waves this morning. After a leisurely breakfast on the terrace we got dressed and ready to board the ferry that would take us from St. Thomas to St. John where we will stay for four days at the Estate Lindholm. Our room is called the Harbor Cinnamon View Room and it overlooks Cruz Bay. It is close to the Virgin Islands National Park, where there are beautiful beaches, coral reefs, sea turtles and the remains of a sugar plantation….…………….
Oh wait, that’s not right. Let me start again.
We woke up to the sound of our cats meowing for breakfast this morning. They hate when we sleep in. After a hurried breakfast we got dressed and sat in our kitchen and participated in a Zoom church service. Then we worked on our jigsaw puzzle for a while. I went for a walk and almost got blown into the street, which would be fine because there are no cars anyway. I made soup (I’m becoming the Julia Child of soup making) and chocolate chip cookies. We went to Walmart and then drove down to my dad’s house and ate dinner with him. We came home and watched an episode of “Tiger King” , which made me feel like the most normal, intelligent, and well adjusted person in the world. I stayed up late watching more TV and reading other people’s blogs.
That sounds much more like my new reality.
Everyone who works in a school knows that feeling of the first day of Spring Break. Today was that day but in this alternate universe we are living in right now it feels pretty different this year. I woke up at about 7 this morning and thought “We would just be arriving at O’Hare for our flight to St. Thomas.” My daughter was supposed to leave for Iceland on Thursday. Countless other teachers had plans, if not to travel then to see friends, go out to dinner, visit museums, the zoo and other fun places. I resisted mightily when my husband told me that we would be canceling our trip because the you-know-what had not yet hit the fan. But as time has gone on I have realized two things. 1. It’s ok that we canceled our trip. We are lucky to be able to afford to travel and we will do it again in the future. 2. You can never, never, think that you have life figured out. We take for granted that if we plan carefully enough, save enough money, arrange things just right, that it will all work out. And then stuff happens. And while we can’t always control what happens we can control how we react to it and what we do about it.
And that is what I’m working on.
I called a lady from our church today. She is elderly and lives alone so she made it on to the list of people from our church that I have resolved to call and check on. ( I am up to the Gs now) She said that some days are very hard for her and she gets depressed. However, she has 6 cats and when she sits down at least one or two of them sit on her lap and that makes her feel better. Now, 6 cats is a lot. We have 3 and that seems like enough. But I totally got where she was coming from. Animals can give comfort and companionship and that is usually why we have them. But during this quarantine I’ve noticed that I am enjoying and appreciating our cats more than usual. Part of that may be because I am home with them now. But part of it is that I feel the need for more companionship. And they are there, with us, all day. They follow us around the house, watch us eat dinner, sit by us at night, and sleep at the foot of our bed.
And it makes everything a little more bearable.
Today was kind of a blah day for me. All day during meetings people kept asking me about the future. Will we go back to school on the 8th? I hear we’re not going back until the 20th. Isn’t it May 1st? What about our meetings? What about our evaluations? How do we meet minutes? And the answer to all of it is “I don’t know”. I realize that people don’t like uncertainty, that they are anxious, nervous, upset and worried. So am I. And listening to everyone else’s anxiety just heightened mine. “I don’t know” is very unsatisfying. But it’s the truth. We have to wait and see. I hope it helped for people to talk and share their concerns but in the end we didn’t get very far.
When I was done with work (or at least done with meetings) I needed something completely mindless and not about work or “it that must not be named”. So I turned on the TV and lo and behold there was “Prison Women – Jailhouse Justice”. I mean, that couldn’t be further from anything going on in my life. So I watched it for about 20 minutes. The “prison women” referred to the guards. And they are guards in a prison of both men and women. Those female guards were some bad asses. It was interesting to watch and it took my mind off everything else for a while.
And that’s all you can hope for right now.
I love my dad, all 92 years of him. You know when someone leads off with that statement there is probably a “but”. Well, yes. He has this incredible gift for saying the wrong thing, which he cares not at all about when it is pointed out to him. Jeff and I have been visiting him twice a week during the “pandemic”, which we feel is safer than bringing him to the family dinner right now. We’ve been picking up groceries for him and doing any other errands he needs done. I cook a meal to bring to him and make sure there is enough for two nights. I taught him to use Face Time on his IPad so that he could have some human connection with his granddaughters, who aren’t visiting him right now. After tonight’s dinner was over he said “Wow that was really good. You finally learned to cook.” I think he was kidding but after coming to my house for 10 years for a weekly dinner and bringing food down to his house twice a week a little kindness would have been nice. Then I asked him if he had used Face Time to contact anyone. He said “Nah. I don’t even like that thing. I don’t need to see anyone’s face. I’ll just talk to them like usual.” So there went 45 minutes of entering contacts into his IPad and tutoring him on how to Face Time. And this is pretty much how our visits go. When we got home tonight, however, there was a voicemail message on our landline from my dad. “Thank you so much for tonight. Amd thank you for everything you do for me. It was so nice to have some company. I love you guys so much. Thanks again. I love you.”
I guess he’s forgiven.
During the school year I, as do most people, have a regular routine. I get up at 6:00, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, gather my stuff together, stop at Dunkin Donuts and refill my coffee cup and go to work. I’ve had this routine for a number of years. It works for me to do the things I do in the order I do them. For example I make my lunch the night before because I’m not a morning person and I don’t want to have to think about what I’m going to eat.
The reason I’m talking about this fairly boring routine is because it is amazing to me how a finely honed, long standing routine can go out the window so quickly. I have a whole new routine now. I sleep in, getting up anywhere from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. I eat breakfast first and linger over it while watching the news. I work out or answer some emails. I make coffee and linger over that. Then I shower and do some things around the house. I may have IEP meetings interspersed between these things.
In some ways it feels like my old routine was years ago. And some days it feels like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and start it all over again.
Whenever I feel bad about something in my life I try and think of someone who is worse off than me. Not to feel superior or anything, just to put my own life into perspective and stop feeling sorry for myself. I think everyone is feeling a little sorry for themselves these days. Loneliness, isolation, lack of connection and purpose, missed trips, missed dinners, the list goes on. Today I was actually feeling ok about life. I made a phone call to an elderly couple from our church, just to check in. I found out that the woman is in the hospital with pneumonia and is on oxygen. She also has a lung condition that makes her even more compromised and at risk for a virus. No visitors are allowed so she is battling this alone. Then my former sister-in-law called to tell me that my nephew’s baseball team’s trip to the Cooperstown tournament has been cancelled. Tough blow for a 12 year old who loves all things baseball. My daughter told me a story of one of her students with severe autism who is becoming violent and aggressive at home. The family is in crisis. My good friend’s dad has stage 4 kidney cancer and will have surgery this week. No visitors before, during or after his hospital stay. It will be a long time before it is safe for her to see him again.
I did have to cancel my trip to St. John but right now I’m feeling pretty ok about it.