This beautiful and poignant guest post required equally gorgeous photos. Thank you to our contributing writers for being the heart of this blog and for allowing me to share your family photos from “the good old days.” May we all know such kind, generous, reflective, authentic, brave, tender, intelligent, and joyous people as all of the BVTMB writers. And may we all learn how to appreciate the good old days as they happen.
A wise man once said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” OK, the wise man was Andy Bernard from The Office, so not the sharpest stapler in the drawer, but his words still resonate. How do we find a way to truly appreciate the moments that we are living in before those moments become memories?
I am telling you now that these are the good old days. Yes, right here, right now, in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic crisis. These are the good old days.
We are worried about running out of toilet paper. Everyone wants to bake, but flour and yeast have disappeared from grocery store shelves. Our kids’ activities are canceled for the foreseeable solution. We are struggling to balance telework and homeschool. We don’t know when we can see our parents and our friends in person again. Our kids who are only children are lonely, and our kids who have siblings are driving us nuts with their fighting. We aren’t getting enough exercise. Being with our partners 24/7, or being partnerless and alone with our kids 24/7, is driving us crazy. Our houses are messy and cluttered because everyone is always at home and the cleaning lady can’t come anymore. Some of us have lost our jobs and are terrified about what will happen when our money runs out. We are afraid of the news that changes literally by the hour, of the climbing disease and death counts, of the stories we hear and read about people we don’t know who have suffered and died.
We miss life as we knew it just a few short weeks ago. We worry that our summer plans are shot to hell, that social distancing will be its own sort of intermittent plague, that life will never be the same again. But these are the good old days.
Right now, we are doing Zoom happy hours with our friends. We are marathoning Netflix. (I haven’t watched this Tiger King nonsense. Am I missing out?) We can’t find flour, but we can usually find bread, or at least some English muffins, and if we can’t today, we can always try again tomorrow. We are taking walks and riding bikes. We are calling and texting our friends to chat and share and complain and vent. We are feeling good instead of guilty about ordering take-out, because buying from local restaurants supports our local economy. We are slowing down, doing puzzles, watching TV, spending time with our kids after weeks and months and years of feeling like we are drowning in our busy American lives. These are the good old days.
But very, very soon, the good old days may be over. If we do not make safe choices now, then in a few short weeks we will be living in a reality where the people who are suffering and dying will be our friends and family, or we will be leaving our loved ones to struggle with our own illnesses and untimely deaths. If we continue to justify decisions that we know go against the social-distancing, stay-at-home, lockdown, or shelter-in-place guidelines that many states have enacted, then we will be signing off on the final chapter of our own lives and of the lives of the people we love.
Decisions like allowing our kids to play with the kids next door or meeting a friend to chat (“Just that one friend, and I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had contact with anyone else, although her husband does still have to go to work, because he’s essential, but I’ll make sure that we don’t sit too near each other”) will have disastrous consequences for the people we know. The co-worker we were Zooming with will be in the hospital on a ventilator. The friend we were commiserating with over Facebook about how frustrating it is that our kids are out of school until the fall and how it sucks that we are all essentially on house arrest will be mourning the loss of her husband. We will be sick. We will be separated from our kids so we don’t get them sick or they don’t get us sick. We will have lost parents and co-workers and teachers and friends and children.
Instead of complaining about all of the laundry we have to fold, the hand sanitizer shortages, and our kids going stir-crazy while we try to accomplish something for work, we will be either sick or despondent because we have several friends in the hospital and several more who have died and we can’t even hold a funeral for them for fear that the next funeral will be our own.
This reality has already happened in places like Italy, and it is currently happening in New York. It may not have hit us yet, but if we do not follow instructions about staying home and washing our hands and practicing social distancing, it will… and the good old days will be over.
I don’t want that reality. I want the one where we all whine about not finding TP and flour for a couple of weeks, where we struggle to balance work and homeschool, where we all stress about how on earth we will reschedule dance competitions and swim meets and soccer games and family vacations… and then in a few weeks or a few months or however long it takes, we ramp back up to our normal lives, lives where the vast majority of people we know are healthy and alive.
Our current collective reality of the world stopping and shutting us in and cutting us off from the family and friends and activities we love is weird and hard, but this reality is that the good old days are right here, right now. Andy Bernard, we are in the good old days. And we should do everything we can right now so that we do not leave them.
Guest Author: Abbie Baker
Abbie Baker is a single work-at-home dance mom living a stereotypically overscheduled life in the suburbs of northern Virginia. She is in a perpetual state of imbalance as she tries to juggle her job as a technical writer for a cybersecurity startup with such exciting endeavors as school pickups and drop-offs, rhinestoning dance costumes, and chauffeuring her 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son to their endless dance, Taekwondo, basketball, and soccer practices and competitions. In her nearly non-existent free time, she enjoys playing board games and marathoning TV shows she should’ve watched ages ago with her boyfriend, snuggling with her sweet pitbull and chirpy cat, and learning to speak Hungarian.