Originally written June 17th, 2022
Andy and I fell into a routine pretty easily. Each morning we would wake up and go down to the livingroom and turn on the news, desperate to gather more information about what was unfolding right outside our door. The first few days of lockdown seemed to bring rapidly changing conditions, with the news only heightening panic with their non-stop coverage of around the world happenings. The fear of the unknown is what seemed to have struck people the most. It very much felt like we were all sitting ducks, waiting.
Cups of coffee entwined in our fingers and computers on our laps, we would both answer work emails while pausing occasionally to listen intently to the news.
“How long do you think this is going to go on for?” Andy said, not looking away from his computer screen. “I’m supposed to leave for Boston in a week.” I breathed in slowly, unsure of how to answer. “We also have NOLA coming up,” I said, thinking about the birthday trip we had planned for when I was on spring break. Andy ran his fingers through his long, brown hair. “Let’s hold off on canceling anything just yet. You never know what could happen.” And that is how everything very much felt, as if we were living day-to-day, unsure of what was going to come tomorrow.
On the second day home from work, we had decided that it may be smart to stock up on food and personal care items, just in case things got as worse as the news projected it to. Andy is immunocompromised and is post kidney transplant, with an already frail immune system to boot, so viruses with unknown origins and side effects stretched our anxiety quite thin in the early days of the pandemic.
We made the plan that I would be the one to go shopping, fitting as much as I could into my tiny Fiat, so we wouldn’t have to leave the house depending on how bad circumstances got. This was before masks were mandated and extra precautions were put in place. A lot of people were still working, and so things were pretty quiet in the stores I visited.
I slowly slid my cart from isle to isle, studying each row of items and deeply contemplating how to shop for the circumstances at hand. I grabbed multiple packs of chicken, some beef, a few packets of pork chops and then headed to the pasta isle. Pasta just seemed like the most sensible thing to buy for a looming global shut down and is overall a really versatile product. With limited ingredients I could whip up a different pasta dish every night. I threw a few armfuls of fusilli sacks into my cart followed by what could be looked at as a year supply of bucatini. Somewhere between the frozen food isle and the canned goods, though, I let my worry take over and somehow my cart entered the check out line brimming with more than a few rolls of cookie dough, potato chips, mug cakes and ice cream. All purchases I wouldn't usually make. It seemed to me, that if Andy and I were going to be stuck inside in the middle of winter for the unseeable future, these are things that could possibly get us through it.
The first weeks of the pandemic were weird. There is truly no better way to put it. For my generation, there wasn't any other event that had taken place before this that had sent the whole world into chaos. Events like 911 had transpired, reverberating the feeling of uneasiness far and wide,but this was the first global situation that left such a catastrophe in its wake.
People were buying massive amounts of bleach and toilet paper, only to turn around and try to sell it for triple and even quadruple the price online, just days later when every store ran out. The pandemic also quickly turned political, turning friends, family and complete strangers against each other and leaving people’s nerves and mental health in shambles. It very much felt like everyone was against each other and, for the most part, didn’t even know or understand why.
People’s inability to deal with their new day-to-day life began to play out on screen as world wide people having meltdowns in public became international entertainment. Websites like Reddit and Youtube helped spread people’s “public freakouts” like wildfire, introducing a new layer to the pandamonium, “cancel culture.” People’s public spirals were being circulated not only throughout the internet, but passed between friends and inevitably ending up in the hands of the offender’s bosses, leading to terminations and completely being shunned by their communities. This was happening not only on a low scale in small towns all over the U.S., but “A list” celebrities were not immune to being canceled because of bad behavior or insensitive social media antics.
“Are we literally witnessing the collapse of society?” Andy questioned, not removing his eyes from the news report one morning. A woman had been caught with an Iphone camera raging against an African American bird watcher in Central Park. The man, who questioned if her dog should be on a leash, began filming once the woman started hurling racial slurs at him. This ended with her losing her job and the dog that she had recently adopted.
“Either people are at the end of their ropes, or perhaps they’ve always felt this way and feel as though the pandemic has given them a free pass to be crazy,” I responded, sliding onto the couch and wrapping myself into the gray knitted blanket Andy was partially wrapped in.
And this was our life. After an hour or so of news and coffee, we would each disperse to our designated work spaces, Andy to his office, me snuggled in bed with my materials fanned out on the comforter, until reconvening at lunch. During this time I would respond to emails, grade student work, add grades to the grade book, email parents to keep them up to date on what was missing or overdue and continually be in contact with administration and other teachers on what students were up to and what things were working and what ideas were failing. Any time a teacher had success implementing an idea, they would post it on our staff Teams page, hoping that by sharing the information, they would be able to elevate just a little stress caused by teaching remotely.
My first hour of work was usually dedicated to responding to frantic parent emails. “My student says he never received your packet of work the last day. Do you have an alternative copy you can email?” or “I’ve just discovered that while I’m at work, my student has not been working on the work that has been given. They are about four weeks behind in EVERYTHING. HELP!”
During lunch, we’d stand over our leftovers around the kitchen island, chatting about any bizarre work happenings or which rabbit hole we had accidentally fallen down while attempting to work.
“So these people who are acting like goofballs in public, now people have started labeling them "Karens",” Andy said, taking a bite of his pickle.
“Hmm, it is a pretty basic name, so I guess that makes sense,” I bent down to pick up the dog’s water bowl to refill it.
Three months before the pandemic hit, Andy and I had decided to expand our family of three. When we met, I came into the relationship with Cammi, a 13 year old Australian Silky Terrier who was full of spunk and sass, even at her old age. But, despite her love and acceptance of Andy into our little pack, he never felt as though she was his dog. Bisous, also an Australian Silky Terrier, joined our clan just three months before covid hit, screeching any socialization activities we had planned for her in the spring to a sudden halt. Because Andy works from home and they spent so much time together those first few months, they grew an inseparable bond. With a dog that looked at him as if he was her whole world, now our family felt complete.
**Above is our journey from the Spanish boarder through the whole south and all the stops in between. You may notice Vaison is not marked, it was a totally by chance we ended up there!
Bonjour, Ciao, Salut! I'm Rachel and this is my story documenting our experience buying a home in France. If you are looking for advice on home buying, feel free to e-mail me or check the bottom of the home page for a link to a basic guide.