Fortunate & Unfamiliar

Today, my partner and I chose to begin a self-quarantine of ourselves and our children. We’re at home for 2 weeks minimum, to be re-assessed at the end of March. I’ve never done this before.

Whew, here we go.

It’s been a fucking freaky couple of days. Two days ago I was in San Antonio. A week or so ago my partner spent a weekend in Dallas. We thought we were ok. When I left for my trip people were feeling cautious but optimistic. On Wednesday the WHO declared a pandemic. By the time I came home the news sounded panicky and toilet paper was disappearing fast. Being out there away from home with the overly dramatic news on everywhere was scary. Being around people whose derivation and illness status was unknown was a messy kind of feeling.

Yet for the most part, people on the Riverwalk and in my hotel acted like everything was totally normal. I’m pretty sure the reality was somewhere in between my nervousness and their apathy.

My trip home was surreal and a little frightening. I jumped when people coughed on the planes. I may have unintentionally glared at a couple of people that invaded my personal space too much. I’m an anxious person by nature, and the heightened atmosphere hasn’t helped that at all.

By the time I got home we had decided via text message to keep our kids home for two weeks (one week is Spring Break already). Many school systems have kept their kids home but not ours yet. They’re still “waiting to decide” for real, even though the local university and colleges as well as many businesses in town are now in remote-only mode. We decided to err on the side of caution and not risk getting anyone sick, particularly since we’ve been traveling, and also not expose ourselves to further risk.

Holy Shit, I’m Fortunate

Our first act of preparation was to go grocery shopping. In this, I feel endlessly fortunate to be able to purchase and store enough food for multiple weeks of groceries. I haven’t always had either of those luxuries, and I do not take them for granted. I still remember being 20 and never knowing if buying groceries was going to mean the end of my money until payday, or the cramped quarters of our New York apartment, where extra eggs and beans and toilet paper really would’ve had no place to go.

I also am extremely fortunate in that my business will not be super negatively impacted by self-quarantine (it’s a work-at-home business, and I aim to be flexible within the limits of the work deadlines). I sent an email to the people I work for on Friday stating our “health and family first” policy, and asking everyone to please be patient as we deal with local school and business closures. Of course, that includes bearing with us if we should get sick. I think that we will be able to complete our work, just we might struggle with the usual timelines.

My husband is similarly fortunate to work at home. One never knows, but I hope his employer will acknowledge and work with his employees’ need for flexibility with childcare as schools close, and acknowledge that spousal obligations may prevent the spouse from being the sole childcare solution. It does happen fairly often that employers assume my schedule is open to any interruptions, and that of course I (and not my male partner) will be the one to take over childcare for impromptu travel or any other interruptions. It’s extremely frustrating to both of us!

Following on my feelings of fortune, I have been looking around at local poverty-relief nonprofits and see if I they are burdened and if I can help. I am also sensitive to the small businesses, performers, and other vulnerable aspects of our economy to see if there are ways I can support them at this time.

Iti’s been a freaky few days, and it’s clear this emergency will impact a lot of people in a profound way. Some people will be able to cope, and some will struggle. Let us all be kind and generous with one another.

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