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The Long and Winding Road to September

By Lori Welch Brown

The Long and Winding Road to September

I can’t wait for 2020 to be in our rearview mirrors, but I’m almost afraid of what lurks behind Door #2021.  This year has been a wild and crazy ride to our own backyards, testing facilities, Zoom meetings, etc.  Personally, it seems like the summer that wasn’t.

Definitely not like the summers of our past.

Road trips.  Farmer’s markets.  Parades.  Ice cream.  Hurry up—the fireworks are starting!  Fireflies.  Boating on the Chesapeake.  Summer concerts.  Sand castles.  Festivals.  Screen on the Green.  Blankets on the lawn.  Roller coasters.  Packed coolers.  Margaritas.  Jimmy Buffet.  Oysters.  Did anyone bring the OFF?  Lawn mowers, the smell of cut grass and mulch.  Blue crabs drenched in Old Bay.  We need more ice! Toes in the sand.  Summer camp.  Snow cones.  Tomato sandwiches. “When do the kids come home? I thought it was two weeks!” Waves.  Salt water.  Strawberries. Salt water taffy.  Burgers on the grill.  “I said rare!” Watermelon.  Corn on the cob.  Don’t forget the SPF 50!  Tropical drinks.  Sunsets.  Where’s the fly swatter?

Definitely not the summer we imagined.

Pandemic.  Quarantine.  Isolate. Better get to Costco!  Amazon, Amazon and more Amazon.  We need bleach! Cook, cook, cook.  Clean, clean, clean. I found TP—it’s coming from Australia!  Gloves. Rain. Social distancing.  Gloves are bad!  Empty the dishwasher.  We’re out of hand sanitizer. Political stupidity.  Where’s your mask? Uber eats.  George Floyd. You’re too close! It’s sooo hot!  Black Lives Matter.  More heat.  More humidity. There are no tests! More political stupidity.  Do the dishes!  The A/C isn’t working! Peaceful protests. His mask isn’t even covering his nose!  Why bother? Buy more TP.  A/C replaced. “What about the poor doctors and nurses?” More frickin’ rain. It’s still hot in here! Call the A/C guy!  Are we living in the dark ages? How is this even still happening?  A/C fixed. Birthday party?  How many?  No thanks—too many people for me. Staying home again. Restaurant? Are they even open? Seats too close. It’s all a big conspiracy—it will all be over after the election, but get more TP just in case. Pack extra masks.  You have to wash it!  Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles.  Why is she wearing a mask alone in the car for God’s sake?

I love my house, but I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of cooking, cleaning and breaking down Amazon boxes.  I’m tired of not being able to see people smile.  I’m tired of people complaining about wearing masks. And, I hate not being able to see my dad or hug my loved ones.

It’s all so exhausting.

It is a long and winding road, but so is life.  We have to do what we can to stay positive and focused on the things that we can control.  I’ve rediscovered my love for farmer’s markets and local road trips.  Money I usually spend on hair and nails went to art supplies and online classes.  We are resilient humans who are capable of adapting to change.  As Glennon Doyle often says, “We can do hard things.”

Maybe my summer hasn’t been as hard as yours.  Maybe you lost a parent to COVID or you have to home school your kids. Or, maybe your summer was a blast.  You were able to go to the beach, paddle board, eat crabs, and spend time with family.  It’s not helpful to compare levels of hardness or anxiety, but better to realize that we are all going through something.

When will it end?  Maybe it’s a new beginning, our new reality.  September has always represented a fresh start—the beginning of a new school year. I recently shifted my mindset from “When will it end?” to “It’s a new beginning,” and my anxiety lessened.  Like our first day back to school, it is filled with new, exciting and scary possibilities.  It also has new opportunities.  New professions, inventions, businesses, etc. will be created.  A mental shift, a more heightened awareness, and a deeper consciousness is being unearthed.

For every positive, there are 32 negatives.  I get it.  But, we have to start somewhere—back to the school of life.  We have to put on a new pair of glasses to envision a different perspective.  Will we always have to wear masks?  Maybe.  Maybe masks are like seat buckles.  At some point, we won’t be able to imagine a safe existence without them and realize we should have been wearing them all along.

I don’t know. I’m not certain.

That’s the scary part—just like the first day of school.  Not being certain of pretty much anything is terrifying. Where is my locker?  How do I get to my second period class?  Will any of my friends have my lunch time? The unknown is hard for all of us.  When will it be safe to travel?  Will I ever be able to visit my dad again?  When will I be able to see my Texas family again?  What about all my friends who own small businesses?  What about the restaurant workers?

Here’s what I am certain of.  Or, if you want me to go all Oprah on you—“Here’s what I know for sure…”

I’m healthy.

I can jump in my Jeep and head out for a day trip to many fabulous local destinations.

At least for the time being, I can eat at some of my fave restaurants.   

I can support local merchants.

We are figuring things out.

My family is healthy, and my dad is getting excellent care.

I am a middle-aged woman living in America with access to medical care, and all my basic needs are being met.  My trip to Italy didn’t materialize, but there is plenty of joy to be found in my own back yard.  I’ve still got the open road.  I’ve still got options.  Tomorrow is a new day full of endless possibilities.  Where to go?  What to do?  Which mask to wear?  Change is hard, but necessary.  Adapt and move on.

My cup runneth over, my wrinkles runneth over my mask, and I’m headed back to the school of life where the lessons are hard, but the learning is plentiful.

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