My suitcases lay empty and open, waiting for content. I was reluctant. After 3 months of hunkering down in the mountains of Park City, our rental was up. I had left myself 3 days to pack up. Surely it would take that long. But each day I found a reason to bypass the empty suitcases and take another walk, read my book, and write a bit more. Anything but fill that nylon zippered void. We were leaving and my heart rate was starting to accelerate every time I looked at the piles of stuff that needed to be sorted. And so I looked the other way.
Contained inside more than anytime in my life, my behaviors had noticeably changed. Never too busy to say I didn’t have time to deal with obligations, I consciously avoided unwanted commitments.
I talked less on the phone and listened more to great podcasts most recently Obama and Springsteen and, fantastic audible books. I made time to practice yoga with a friend by zoom when our teacher was no longer available. I inhaled the morning sunrises and stopped and stared at the evening sunsets. My mind was quieter, my thoughts calmer and I was productively more creative with writing projects (a new screenplay in the works and almost done). I even added a new writing class to my teaching schedule. I slept well at night.
Shockingly, my morning ritual of waking up and noticing my older face had stopped. Each morning I would smear on my lotions and sunblocks but in 3 months I had not examined my face, my lines, or my brown spots as critically. I pulled my hair back and tucked the graying roots into my orange wooly hat, put on my sun glasses or reading glasses and that was that. No make up and no negative self talk. Each time I passed the hall mirror, I would notice that I looked brighter and happier and that was enough of a check in. That was good enough, we weren’t socializing anyway.
We had met a few new friends to ski with this winter but mostly our days and nights were filled with each other. We lived our lives watching the world outside from our screens but living in the moment like never before. Each day was filled with mountain air and light. Our home was an oasis between our before and after.
But as the bags begged to be packed and it was almost time to leave, my husband Bill and I started to put some dates on the calendar. It felt strange to discuss plans for going home, back to the east coast. As with most people, travel talk had been about cancelling plans not making them.
We had left New York and driven to our mountain rental contained in our car, masked and sanitized with only one stop to see our kids in Chicago. The rest of the trip we were on our own. And that’s pretty much how we had rolled until the other kids visited for a few weeks. It’s been quiet and frankly quite pleasant.
Double vaxxed and empowered my husband and I felt safer to plan our trip back. We would continue west to see our LA kids and dip our toes in the Pacific marking a full cross country drive for our first times ever before heading back east.
Our first night away from our rental I couldn’t sleep. Nor the next or the next. The logistics and concerns of re-entry started to weigh on me.
We looked at each other noticing we had slipped into our phones as we began reconnecting with our work and friends back home. Suddenly the list of to do’s whooshed in like a rip tide drowning us in commitments.
There we were like the dueling banjo players in Deliverance matching up our Dr. appts and our meetings with the painters and when we could see the grand kids and our friends. I looked in the mirror and noticed my fatigue. Oh no, were we ready for this? Not really ready… but, after 3 months of recalibrating our rhythm our lens has been refocused and our priorities have shifted. And, we are carrying that new focus back home with us. That’s the silver lining of re-entry.