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Marching on

I wrote a post yesterday about take-out and, like a couple of posts I wrote last week, by the time I got inside from walking the nutjob puppy, decided it was stupid and pointless. This has been (understatement) a very strange couple of weeks. I feel like I’m playing a new sport with no understanding of the rules. Little things – am I supposed to brush my hair before Zoom meetings? Am I allowed to go to Home Depot to get an air conditioner? If the neighbor drops off hand-me-downs, should I bathe them in sanitizer?

Bigger things: what happens if my job disappears come fall? What happens if my MIL gets very very sick as we watch, helpless? How do I get past the anger (rage) that I feel when people act like this is the same as the flu, no big deal, let’s have a barbecue? Am I the one misinterpreting the situation, overreacting, playing into some weird manipulation of hysteria?

Should I keep paying daycare costs? Piano lessons? Cheerleading tuition? Should I order takeout? What about from national chains? Should I build up my emergency fund in the middle of an emergency? Drop everything and freelance every minute of every day in case the money dries up? Take loan deferral and sock that money away, or pay down debts as fast as I can?

Nothing makes sense and everything is topsy turvy. This is hard and emotional and upsetting. And beautiful and community-minded and a gift of family time. The kids, thank God, are accepting this as an extended summer vacation, nothing more. What will they tell their kids about this time?

I wonder if, during quarantines in the freaking Middle Ages, people complained about their kids losing their soccer skills if they couldn’t go to practice. I wonder how they felt about not being able to get hair cuts, hold birthday parties, see family members. I wonder if there were jerks holding barbecues still, Black Plague be damned. Those long-lost people of history seemed so 2-dimensional. Now they fill my thoughts. How many of them were quarantined with cheating husbands, special needs kids, completely completely alone? How many times did they feel so very normal walking their dog in the woods, alone, and yet so very, very abnormal?

At any rate, we are at the end of the month and I was putting my budget together yesterday and realized that I can’t live in “extraordinary mode” for the long term. I spent a lot of money this month on trying to make our lives feel normal – desks for the kids, tons of craft supplies, subscriptions to educational apps. And a ton of money on take-out. And a ton of money trying to help friends without paychecks make it through. We still managed to reduce our credit card debt, and I have enough in my savings account to cover the lawn mower and window air conditioner that we had put off buying until this summer, but we’ve got to get back to a system, a budget.

Because everything is topsy-turvy but…it isn’t. This is it, this is our lives. We’ll get through it, but at some point, and maybe that point is today, quarantine can’t be the only thing on my mind. It’s the backdrop to the life we are living, and living as best we can.

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