I don’t know if they still do this but when I was in school, and vacation came to an end, and classes began again, we were tasked with our first writing assignment; “How I Spent my Summer Vacation.” Mine was usually how I baled hay, stacked the haymows, picked stones and milked cows. This when I wasn’t pulling weeds and tending to our one-hundred acre garden, okay maybe one acre garden. Most days it just felt like a hundred acres. Thus the reason when my dear wife asked for a garden in the back yard of our little house, I handed her the hoe and a bag of seeds and said go for it. Once in a while I could throw in a week at Lutheran Pioneers Summer Camp. As I grew older and got to move out on my own, it was a little less work and a little more travel and play. Eventually, it was trips with my wife and children, forgeting about lesson plans and unruly students for at least a few months of summer. The journal was now filled with road trips to National Parks, camping, hiking and long bike rides. It was filled with people we met along the way and the shared experience of crowds and tours.
So what have we just gone through, and don’t doubt for a minute that it is over. We might only be half way through this coronavirus vacation. When it started, and we were hopeful, some of us thought this would be a short stay away from work, at worst a forced seclusion with our family and loved ones, on a vacation of sorts. As it dragged on, we started to realize that we had to continue on in a very foreign environment. Where prior to this virus, we strived hard to not bring our work home with us. Now, in the midst of this distancing and closures of our offices, it seems not only the work came home with us, the entire office came home to us. Where a meeting meant leaving my desk and assembling with my coemployees, Zoom now brought their desks into my house via my laptop.
Oh there were some bright spots in this experiment. For one you only had to dress the half of you people could see from your camera angle. I find myself hoping the other people in the meeting wouldn’t suddenly stand up and show off what I was trying not to imagine. Ties and professional wear has given way to something well beyond business casual Friday. Fridays will probably become business casual sweat pants, you know, your comfy sweat pants not the dressy sweat pants you were wearing the rest of the week with a sport coat and dress shirt on the top half.
Another bright spot was all this time we got to spend with our famiy. We all finally got the chance to teach our children the right way, you know the way we did it when we went to school. How’s that working? If I believe Facebook, teachers are going to, at least for awhile, be greatly elevated in social status. Driving is easier with nearly empty streets and finding a parking spot is a breeze. My car sits idle in the garage. Where I would have put on several hundred miles a week going somewhere, I have barely logged fifty miles in the last month. You know somethings changed when the insurance company drops your rates instead of raising them. And all this while gas gets cheaper every day. If it could, I’m sure my car is weeping in the garage wondering why our love affair has suddenly ended. We just don’t talk to each other anymore.
So what have I done with my coronavirus vacation? I replaced going to a museum with watching every available episode of ‘Mysteries at the Museum’. I have visited several National Parks, virtually. Amazon, Hulu and Net flix have replaced five buck Tuesdays and Friday night fish frys. I’ve gotten projects done, some that were necessary but I had been putting off. Some that were just to get my butt up off the couch. I replaced my Zoom virtual background with a beach scene just so I could believe I actually went. And I have worn out several pairs of shoes, and the sidewalks for that matter, walking in aimless circles around my neighborhood, waving politley and staying six feet away from everyone. It’s been a strange vacation. Cheap, but strange.
Hopefully you have read this with a dripping sarcasm in your voice. I can tell you, that’s the way it was written. Unless you were fortunate enough to somehow fare better or were just more in tune with the solitude of this crisis, the rest of us have gone a tad stir crazy. My heart and my respect does goes out to those that had to risk everything and work through this pandemic. While many of us were isolated in our homes, there were countless others who soldiered on through the storm; health workers, essential business service providers, delivery people and others just hanging on to survive. Heroes all. I guess my coronavirus vacation pales when you consider the big picture, but it was fun to write about it.
I have to go now. I am going to go wrestle alligators in the everglades and then do a little swimming with sharks off Madagascar. Who needs reality when virtual is so much cheaper and hey, safer.
Stay safe, stay well and stay connected. It’s physical distancing, not social. Just think of this as a vacation from the other reality, the one we all want back.
Keep writing, Ken, keep writing.
Thank Beth. I will, please keep reading too. Even one fan is enough to keep me going.