COVID Silver Linings

Oh, hey, I actually sang “COVID Silver Linings” on a work Zoom, and my publisher talked about the silver linings in this week’s newsletter, but also you should know that there ARE some events happening these days, adapted for COVID. So you can click over to the newsletter to see them (or sign up for the newsletter each week).

It doesn’t feel like we actually had a summer summer, but I guess it’s wrapping up and here we are. It’s been fairly melancholy at our house. The girls and I took an overnight trip to visit my sister and her family, so that was an excellent outing. Another sister joined us, which means I think I’m the only one in my family who’s been able to see all five of my siblings and my parents this summer. Nice, even if I didn’t actually hug all of them.

At the end of our visit, we were saying, “Why don’t we do this more often? The drive isn’t that far. . . .” And of course then we realized that we’ve tried to organize visits, but there would always be cross country meets or dance competitions or church fundraisers (on their side) or soccer or volleyball tournaments or gymnastics meets (on our side) that would make it tough to coordinate any plans at all. At which point I launched into my “COVID silver linings” song, a darkly facetious little chorus I’ve been singing for months. But clearly there are silver linings. I recently participated in a Zoom call with several high school friends, several of whom I hadn’t talked to in 30 years. We never would’ve motivated ourselves to plan that if our lives were operating normally. So. . . there’s that. But, do I want to place these small consolation prizes on a scale and weigh them against 180K deaths and counting, a wrecked economy, and the trashing of my daughters’ daily lives? Umm. . . not really. Still, it’s good to see friends and family.

The last week or two have been particularly bittersweet as we’ve watched M’s friends head off to college while she’s stayed home. When kids first started leaving, I just felt so consumed by jealousy. I would go to socially-distanced graduation parties and scroll through Facebook offering “likes” and good wishes, and I tried to be happy for all of these wonderful kids. But the pit of my stomach was contracting around a suppressed scream of “It’s NOT. FAIR.” that other families are getting the college drop-off that we’d been planning.

But then, in the middle of feeling like that, I read this horrible story about a college student contracting COVID in Iowa and I ended up sobbing about that, fearful for all of these poor kids who could end up sick and neglected and far from home. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, between M and I, we know of students who have been sent home with COVID, a student who’s withdrawn from school, a student who was hungrily waiting for food while in quarantine, a student who’s already been suspended for violating COVID rules, and students who have had in-person college canceled since they moved in. So I’m feeling. . . less consumed by jealousy, I guess.

Really, it’s not fair for anyone. And I know that there are people ranting about college kids being irresponsible, but I just don’t have it in me to be angry at the kids. The colleges wanted to collect their tuition, room, & board, and so they ignored that it would take almost super-human discipline for hundreds or even thousands of teenagers to get together after spending a spring and summer full of disappointment and isolation and not go to parties and drink and hook up. I mean, obviously, I know many very disciplined and intelligent first year college students who are following the rules like champions, and they should be commended, but in a huge community of people, of course there were going to be plenty of kids violating guidelines. Colleges who did not plan appropriately for weak links were willfully delusional, and they bear plenty of responsibility for what’s happening.

Alright, enough of that. M has been enumerating up a storm. We are a little stressed out because she was actually hoping to be moving on to Gap Year Phase 2 by now, but her main contact for that has been elusive. It is making me crazy. It is taking a massive amount of personal restraint for me to stay out of it and not get on a phone or get in my car and scream at this stranger who seems to be an entirely delightful person except for not getting back to my daughter. A consolation is that a crucial puzzle piece for Gap Year Phase 3 has fallen into place. So hopefully she’ll be able to cobble together plans despite many obstacles and impediments.

Meanwhile, J has been keeping herself busy. She’s been cooking a lot. She’s made two pies in one day (one cherry-nectarine, one chocolate), some incredibly fancy ramen noodle bowls and acai bowls, mysterious and complicated lunches, and some massively scrumptious garlic bread. She’s also been sewing and re-designing various articles of clothing. That dress she was never crazy about has transformed into a cute top and a still-a-work-in-progress wrap skirt. For a little while this burst of creativity meant that she was leaving behind a trail: messy kitchen, pins and scraps of fabric, random supplies hither and yon. But after I groused about it quite a bit, she’s improved considerably and has started randomly tidying the kitchen and unloading the dishwasher, new hobbies I fully support.

She’s also just gotten a haircut:

Before this cut, her hair was very long (you can see it in this post). In fact, it’s been long for about as long as she can remember, so she was entirely unprepared for how light it would feel to hack so much off. She loves it and she’s been flipping her hair around all day ever since.

J’s school start date is currently set for September 14th with plans that she’ll attend in person every other day. I’m skeptical that this will happen on time or at all. And sometimes I feel guilty because by saying that we’re willing to show up, we’ve increased the pressure on teachers and staff so that they have to show up. But that is the current plan, such as it is, and who knows what will actually happen? So we will just have to practice being as Zen as possible and adjusting as we go.

At my most optimistic moments, I choose to believe maybe the girls are building adaptability and resilience, at least. But, honestly, every time the “COVID silver linings” song pops into my head, it’s still pretty bitter and facetious.

One Comment

  1. Mary Ellen

    The haircut looks terrific! I love your Covid silver linings song! This blog made me smile…and today, well, everything just got to me. I needed a smile (and some wine) So thank you.

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