7th April 2020 Off By rs

Time is of the essence has taken a new turn for me. This used to mean, “act fast,” but now it’s a definite, “stop and steep in your own juices.”

What I want to horde most right now is TIME: time for the production of medical equipment for our health care workers and local health facilities, time for the transition from our pre-pandemic to our post-pandemic way of life. I’m still looking to see what the new post-pandemic way of life will be.

In the rare moments that it’s been nice outside, I get out in my yard. It’s a bit early to garden in Northern California, too much danger of frost to start something growing, and for the most part, the weather has me pinned down inside. I do what I have to do and then I putter. I prioritize. I organize. I search for things in the basement that I’ve completely forgotten about or that I can get rid of, and just right now, I’m going to rant.

I have a teenager who has been refusing to stay home during the Covid-19 “Shelter In Place” order, and he is BADGERING me to have friends over to my place. Worse yet, he’s not trying to have a visit with a pre-pandemic bestie, because he doesn’t seem to have one right now. This is most unfortunate. All of his friends and acquaintances seem to be reasonably settled in with family or have gone radio-silent for some other unknown reason. The friends that my son has been trying to visit with have been people who generally join him in ignoring coronavirus precautions.

GREAT. A little background: I had my kids late in life.  I’m older with a higher risk of succumbing to coronavirus if I get exposed. I’m a Boomer, but I’m not an idiot. My life is worth something, and whether my son understands it or not, he could not survive if he loses both of his parents, or possibly even one, even for a week.

My son is a bit impulsive and this has hit him at one of the lowest points of his adolescent life, so it’s a bit understandable that he’s been acting a bit like a caged animal and growling out words like, “TORTURE,” “PUNISHMENT,” and “I AM GOING CRAZY HERE.”

To this last one I say, but to myself, I am going crazy here too. This is hard for everybody. This is VERY difficult for single people. I SO look forward to my phone calls and zoom sessions that I almost brush my hair. If it absolutely has to be a video session, I do brush my hair and I put on a clean top, but from the waist down I am all pajamas and mismatched hospital socks.

I feel like I’m going into stasis. EVERYBODY is sacrificing most, if not all, actual outside face-to-face social activity. 

But worse than the fact that my son’s willing to offer up his fairly fit seventeen-year-old body with little or no current prospects to the coronavirus gods is the fact that he’s willing to potentially jeopardize his family’s health or someone else’s in the process. He could undo all of my caution, all of our sacrifice, in the blink of an eye. That’s a lot to put on a seventeen-year-old, but this is our current reality. It’s hard for me to accept some days too.

This is like any generation gap conflict EVER except the stakes are a lot higher than we’ve seen in a while. It’s my understanding that my son is not the only person pulling this denial or disbelief act. Losing an elder family member is going to alter the course of your life forever. It hurts me that I’m completely supporting someone: paying the rent, utilities, food, doing laundry, etc., etc., and that he might not factor in heavily the fact that he’s increasing his risk of exposing me to coronavirus.

And, to all this I had to say, “Stay at your dad’s for a while.” More heartbreak. More loneliness. 

I live right in town where it has been easy for him to walk to a convenience market, jump on a city bus or get picked up or dropped off by a new friend (all of which he’s done in the early days of the coronavirus shutdown). His father’s house is a good twenty-minutes and a gallon (or two, round trip) of gas from town, and my son’s there indefinitely. 

This is a big hard learning experience, but boundaries are good. Six feet. 20 minutes. Boundaries can save your life, maybe countless lives. Or maybe not. But boundaries can buy TIME.

Our local hospital is filling up with coronavirus patients. It’s probably just a matter of days before it’s reached its capacity to treat respiratory patients, if it has not reached it already. We all need to buy time for the production of medical treatment and protective equipment to ramp and be delivered to our hospitals and our homes. We are all, afterall, most likely to get this sooner or later. Later is better in terms of our chances of survival.

I hope on the other side of this that we are all more connected. For now, I must do my part, poke at my keyboard, and turn my living room into a dance/workout studio for one. Sometimes two.