Lately, I’ve been replaying the last week before Los Angeles went into lockdown in my head, trying to remember what I did, who I saw, what I had entered into my calendar that would soon vanish. Those final fleeting moments of normalcy before schedules and routines would come to a screeching halt.
I remember planning to go to a Tame Impala show at the Forum, but having friends in Europe warn me not to because a wave was coming and the US was simply not ready. I remember stopping at the DMV en route to lunch with a friend in Culver City. Obtaining my California driver’s license is something I have grossly procrastinated, but my Canadian license has expired, forcing me to finally take the road test I’m required to do and, well, that’s not happening any time soon. I remember meeting a friend for coffee on Abbot Kinney at one of my favorite spots, a happening place that typically has a line out the door, but has since shuttered due to the COVID economy. I remember it was pissing rain that day and I had to run down the street to my next stop to pick up some semi-conservative threads in preparation for the new job I was starting the following week. Clothes that haven’t seen the light of day as I’ve been working from home since day one.
I remember going for a hike in Malibu and feeling uncomfortable on the trail because folks weren’t really grasping “social distancing” yet – a term that would soon be forever branded into our brains to commemorate the year the world shut down. I remember contemplating going for a drink to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, but feeling tentative about being in a crowd. And then, on March 16, our mayor issued a “shelter in place” order and the rest is history.
My husband and I have been so incredibly fortunate throughout this wild, historic journey. Healthy, employed and still getting on rather well considering how little time we have to ourselves these days. Any time things get tense, our little dog lightens the mood. We have beaches and boardwalks to bike along and beautiful state parks and despite living in a metropolis that’s home to ten million people, it’s easy to space out and stay safe. The ability to spend time outside most of the year is the sweetest luxury imaginable. As challenging and mentally taxing as this time has been, it’s not lost on me for a second how lucky we are.
What’s been tricky, though, is the separation we’re feeling from our family. Flying back to Canada is of course possible, for Canadian citizens anyway, but the logistics make it feel so out of reach. Flying feels very high risk, particularly when you’re traveling from one of the busiest airports on the planet. We could pack up the car and drive the two thousand plus kilometers home. But necessary stops along the way to use restrooms in random towns that have, perhaps, not taken the spread of the virus as seriously, feels risky too. What was once a quickie 2.5 hour flight feels as achievable as climbing Mount Everest.
Despite missing our loved ones madly, I’m not so sure I want things to return to the way they were pre-pandemic. I like working from home, spending less on eating out and learning to cook outside of my limited repertoire. I prefer to be in nature and not having to put much thought into my wardrobe. I like that the simple pleasures of picking passion fruit from a neighbors garden or jumping in the ocean or kicking back with a good book and a margarita are the highlights of my week now (maybe they always were?). While I’ll be quick to hop on a plane home, head back to the theater or take in live music again the moment it’s safe to do so, I think the simplicity of life in this moment is something I’ll savor long after lockdowns have been lifted.
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