What Will Life Look Like Next Week?

It’s no secret that I’m an introvert. I like my time alone and my own space. It’s not that I don’t like people. I love being around people. I love going out with friends (pre-pandemic) but always need some solo time to recharge. Quarantine can be hard for introverts. If you are staying home with your family, you are around people all the time. I’ve run out of hiding spots, they even found me in the back of my closet last week. 

When I can, I grab Sunny and escape for a long walk to clear my head and recharge. Something that I feel very lucky to be able to do, since there are countries that don’t even let people outside to exercise right now.

Unexpected Agoraphobia

I was on a walk a few days ago and I suddenly panicked. Usually I see a few people on my route, and we politely move 6+ feet away from each other. On this particular day, I felt like every few steps on the trail I was lunging into bushes to dodge bikers, strollers, runners… the place was packed. I became so anxious I abruptly turned around to go home. I wondered to myself, is this going to be my immediate reaction to large groups? That somehow I somehow developed agoraphobia, this anxiety of crowds and feeling unsafe? Months ago I wouldn’t have batted an eye at a crowded path through the park. (I’m now also so conditioned to stay 6 feet from people that I cringed looking at old family photos from a trip to Disneyland. I said out loud, “Look how close we were to all those strangers!”)

By this weekend, our state is starting to open parks and some designated businesses. We’ve been told the state will begin easing the “stay at home” orders in the next few weeks. There has been so little information and so much confusion about how we can safely phase our way back to our new reality. I have no expectations life will look like it did just a few short months ago. As for me and my house, we plan on taking our time figuring out what feels safest for us. Here’s our plan that may change the moment I hit “publish” on this post.

  1. A big part of our job is to make silly videos — but it’s not all we do. We were booked to speak at a few conferences this summer and had a big production project canceled. Financially, it’s a kick in the gut, but we know how lucky we are to be able to create videos from our home.  We have two wonderful humans who work with us. Before this, they set up shop at our kitchen table a few times a week to help us shoot, edit, and post these videos. We’ve developed a process for them to work remotely and we will likely continue the same way until we feel comfortable. We’ve learned, while it’s easier for us to have them here, it’s not 100% necessary. If it’s not essential, we aren’t doing it.
  1. We will continue to order our groceries for delivery (and tip well) and takeout meals from our favorite local restaurants. Even if our favorite spots can open safely, we want to watch and wait to make sure we feel safe. In a few weeks will you find us in an outdoor restaurant with tables spaced at a safe distance? Maybe!  But we will wait for now. 
  1. If we chose to go into a store, we will wear one of the amazing masks my mother created.  I posted a picture of my new fancy mask (it has a pocket for filters!) on my Instagram Stories and we got a few messages saying, “I’m not afraid of this virus. You look like a fool.”  Another claimed I was “fear mongering”.  For the record, I’m not afraid. I’m trying to protect the people around me. There is very little I know for sure, but I 100% know that it will never hurt YOU if  I wear a mask. Perhaps we’ll find out these masks were useless, still… my mask doesn’t hurt you, and I’m doing it.
  1. Starting next week, our kids can choose a friend and meet in our backyard for a social-distance movie night. We may also allow the kids to take bike rides with friends if they promise to keep a safe distance. Our kids have been so respectful of the rules, but I want them to have some real-life interaction if they feel comfortable.
  1. We will take it one day at a time. I want to know what it’s going to look like in the fall, “Will the kids get to have their first day of school AT school?” I want to know what it looks like next summer, “Will we be able to take the trip we’ve already postponed twice?” But there’s no use asking. No one knows. I plan on taking a deep breath, and making the best decisions for my family given the information we have on that day.

Don’t confuse my cautious tip-toeing into a new reality with fear or hysteria. Remember after 9/11? We took our time getting back on airplanes but soon enough we adjusted to new security checks and we got back to traveling.  It’s hard to guess the impact a global pandemic can have on socialization – but I hope we’re taking pictures in crowded theme parks by next year. 

I want to get on an airplane and see my grandmothers in Florida. I want to go to a concert and dance in a crowd. I want to go to our favorite restaurant that is so crowded on a Friday night you have to shove your way to the hostess stand just to put your name on the waiting list. I want my kids to have their plays, band concerts, and noisy, messy sleep overs. I want all those things, but more than I want those things — I want to keep my family safe. 

So for now, we wait.