We are not smug about this friggin virus but my husband and I made some big choices about how to be in our days as this year has hummed along with little change in site about our exposure to getting sick. We both began to form our responses to what our days would look like over the summer.
One evening in July, we visited with friends at their fire pit. We sat 12 feet apart, and the entire 90 minute visit they talked about the virus. They kept telling us updated information that we had all read in the news and I could see my husband smiling politely but looking tense. It was alarming news to be sure, but none we hadn’t heard or read about on a daily basis. We were so hoping our cocktail time would be a 90 minute escape. But, we got so anxious during that visit, we needed to pick our escapes a little more carefully.
After 6 months of practicing safe distancing, we decided we needed a plan for the winter. Channeling Thelma and Louise, we agreed it was time for an adventure. “Let’s drive across country? I mean, we can rent out our house here and rent another one in the mountains and work from there. We just can’t sit around and talk about how bad all this is.”
We hatched the plan. After Christmas, we could drive straight from New York to Chicago and see the kids in their new apartment. All we needed was their invitation to stay with them, and they were good with it. And so we began the planning.
The next invite came from a dear friend who upon hearing our plan insisted we stay at her empty place in Colorado on the way out.
Seriously, yes..what an offer! We would love that.
We would have to spend just one night in a hotel in Kansas City, which did feel risky and made us nervous but we were assured that the hotel we picked was totally sanitized.
And so, we shipped out skis, golf clubs and clothes to the rental and, on December 28th we began our drive across this gorgeous country in our Volvo XC60, with our new snow tires.
“Omg, I’m so excited, nervous but excited.” My husband hugged me with a huge smile and he too was feeling every bit of the thrill of adventure.
I know, this cross country driving adventure sounds wildly crazy, but how is it different than isolating at home. We have masks, and purell, we are not going to socialize and our kids are fine with us staying with them for the week on our first leg, so why not?
And then the phone calls started coming in from a few friends and some family.
You know the virus is worse out in Utah than it was. Cases are climbing. I mean with that new strain, are you guys really going skiing? You really have to be careful. It’s one thing to drive, but what if when you get there and they shut down the mountain like last year, what if you get sick and the ICU’s are full? I think they are full in Salt Lake?
And then on cue I had two familiar bodily reactions that I have had during this entire pandemic.
My chest tightened with a pang as the warnings were fired at me, those words….”it’s worse than it was”, always make me sickeningly anxious. And, the other response, was the urge to hang up the phone or put my fingers in my ears and say, “STOP, I KNOW, IT’S A SHIT SHOW.”
I snapped back into the here and now in time to hear even more…, “How are you going to deal with the ski lines? What happens if your car breaks down? Would you get into a AAA tow truck? What if you need to pull over and are too exhausted to drive? It’s January, this is not when people drive across country, there’s weather issues.”
“OMG, I thought, “I’m not that stupid to think there aren’t risks.” I said to my husband, “I know there are a zillion risks but I want to do this, do you?”
“I do too honey, we are doing it. People are right to be afraid and we are afraid too, but the difference is, we are going anyway.”
We were so on the same page, and the glow of love and the bond of adventure took hold and on a sunny day after Christmas at 6 am, off we went, westward bound for the first leg of our trip, a 13 hour drive to Chicago. It was glorious. There was barely any traffic. We ate PB&J’s all the way. We felt like kids.
“I had no idea Pennsylvania was so big?” I said to my husband.