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  • laurenwhitehurst8

Solo Time

I haven’t written in a long while. Between kids in their last weeks at home, visiting with my sister’s family after 20 months apart, and moving kids back to school, I never seemed to have the time or the mind space to focus. And I wasn’t inspired – there were many small funny things I could have quipped about, but no thematic stories or meaty events that seemed worthy of an entry. There was just a lot of living – hiking and running, cooking for family, packing and then unpacking kids, working on puzzles or crosswords or the NYT spelling bee, watching good and bad TV, and generally keeping up with the day-to-day.

Today I am traveling to Colorado after an almost completely solo day in New York because the kids are settled into their new spaces, and Jim left a day before me. I had not been alone for a whole day in a long time. While I had planned to complete whatever mundane tasks were necessary and then read my book with a glass of wine, I never got there. Between to dos that took longer than planned, Emma’s calls saying she didn’t feel well, Jack’s swinging by for some work advice, and several other things that didn’t go quite smoothly, I felt spent by day’s end and ended up grazing through the first ten minutes of the nightly news and badgering Jim by phone about everything that had gone wrong before heading to bed later than I should have given my next day’s early flight.

When I think about yesterday though, what I am struck by is how normal a day it was and yet how abnormal because of the ongoing threat of Covid in my life. Cocooned in my condo, I might have been able to imagine that we were past all of this craziness. But we are not, as was clear from almost every interaction of my day. A furniture delivery man showed up at my door maskless and unvaccinated, and yelling, I sent him away. I arranged fall travel plans for Jim and me domestically (versus internationally) and in a home (versus a hotel), so we could feel safe. Emma called me upset that she was turned away from her college’s Health Services, relegated to a tele visit conducted two hours later because she had a sore throat. Jack told me he was Covid-tested because he let his supervisor know he felt nauseous. My general contractor delayed an in-person meeting because his family contracted Covid despite being vaccinated. I invited good friends to visit us and then worried about whether that was wise in case we or they had a breakthrough case. Even worse, I then mistakenly worried this via text to my invited friend versus to Jim as I’d intended. Etc. Etc. Covid pervaded the whole day. And I’m wondering if I noticed it more because I was alone, as if we can better forget about Covid when we at least have someone with us to look at who is not wearing a mask.

There are so many big things to worry about these days – climate change, Afghan refugees, New Orleans' residents without power – the list goes on and on. But concerns are also relative to lived experience, and I am starting to worry about how I am going to find community at a personal level during a Pandemic that seems to find new ways to extend itself just when we think we see light. Sure, we recently moved cities; our kids just went back to school; Jim is starting to travel a bit more for his advisory commitments, and so I am going to be solo more often than I’ve become used to these last months. I imagine I would be struggling with community regardless of the Pandemic, since figuring out new purpose as a 51-year old empty nester and leveraging that to make new friends/build new networks, all in new home-bases, isn’t ever going to be easy (especially for a semi-introvert). But, with time alone to muse, I have to say that it’s feeling far more difficult to create and build new personal bridges in a world where interactions are largely virtual, and we don’t really meet with people we don’t know well already.

I’ll keep pushing forward within the confines of where our world is today, and I am still feeling positive about the potential to figure it out. I have more direction than I did six months ago; I’ve had good conversations and have irons in the fire. But some days are harder than others. Yesterday was.

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