Getting Closer

The grandkids celebrating being outside.

The end is in sight in so many ways. The school year is coming to an end. (I’ve been homeschooling my grandkids which has been a challenge – I believe teachers should be put up for sainthood). The pandemic seems to be ending, although we in Gainesville, Florida, a college town where lots of kids come in and out from all over the world, still wear our masks. Spring is coming to an end. Ninety degree days are on the horizon.

But I’m still disappointed that I didn’t get enough work done during the covid pandemic, when I should have had plenty of time. Theoretically, I should have finished the novel I was working on, the screenplay I was working on. Theoretically, I should have edited the complete but heavily in need of edits mystery novel that I want to add to my Bear-Trapped series. You always think you have more time than you actually do.

I’ll admit it. I’m a bit ADHD. Being stuck inside for so long, I’ve had trouble keeping anything in focus. My brain careens around the room, fascinated by this (the new puppies), that (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon), and the other (whatever my husband is doing outside). I am supposed to be working regularly as an editor, but work slowed some during the pandemic. Now it’s starting to roar back in – a good problem to have now that we can actually get out again. Travel is expensive. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive.

I’ve had the virus. It is not the flu. It was a nightmare to recover from. My husband and I both lost over twenty pounds in two weeks, a diet I would recommend not trying. I had lots of days of struggling to breathe, lots of days of not being able to keep food in, lots of days of total exhaustion – and that went on for months after I was theoretically over the virus. My hair shredded. My teeth cracked. My feet hurt. I have since read that all these symptoms are common in people who had the virus.

The first vaccine shot made me feel awful, exhausted, deathly ill. The second shot flattened me for two weeks. But then, I felt like I could get outside again, listen to music, go for walks without fearing that someone would spit on me. I could fill up my gas tank without worrying about the germs on the gas pump. I still wear my mask, but I don’t shift away from people who are maskless – I don’t care if they’re vaccinated or not. I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Theoretically, they can’t infect me, and I can’t infect them.

This past weekend, my wonderful kids rented a huge house in Orlando with a pool and a beautiful view. My son and his wife came in from New York City, my daughter and her husband came in from a nearby city with the grandkids, and we all spent the weekend together in paradise. It was incredible. So nice to be there. I had my first swim in over a year. I haven’t gone that long without swimming since I was four years old. And as an introvert, I didn’t realize how badly I needed time with other people. Particularly my people. The ones who get my jokes. Who don’t mind me taking a nap or hanging out on my computer. The ones I can never get enough of.

Today I started putting together some stories to enter a new chapbook competition. I originally named it Animal Crackers, but it turned out there were a lot of books with that name. The chapbook will start out with a story that will soon be published in a local book of stories about the pandemic. My story is called “This Car Wreck of a Year,” because my pandemic started out with a teenager driving his car into my van. I thought that was a tough way to begin a new year, but guess what? It all went downhill from there.

But whenever things get tough, I try to remember – I’ve been through tough times before. And there’s a little mantra I like to repeat. I know it sounds like a Hallmark card and I don’t EVER say this to anyone else because I don’t want to seem like I’m diminishing their pain with a facile phrase. But things will get better. Hang in there.

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