Leather or canvas? And what color? I ordered a new tote bag today. I chose the canvas version not just because it was cheaper, but so I wouldn’t need to worry about a random rain ruining the leather one. Do I really need a new bag? Of course not, but I’m not sorry. My birthday month is here after all and I will be celebrating my last year of the forties, so I bought it.
The bag is simple. Minimal. The color is called “Black Sea.” A great, relaxed neutral. And a great size to carry to my new teaching job. The one that may or may not happen. The one that I have worked so insanely hard to become qualified for. The one that is pushing me toward this masters degree just within my reach.
The job that I have been waiting for. The one I started planning for more than 30 years ago. The one that has me daydreaming about what my classroom is going to look like. The one that I am pinning ideas to my Pinterest boards for. The one that I know I can really make a difference doing. Reaching out to students who need me.
The new normal that I have been planning for me. Not the new normal that is surrounding us.
But these students haven’t been in a physical classroom since March 13th. Y’all, it is now May. The students who have adjusted or not adjusted to online learning. The students who have missed proms and concerts and athletic events and even graduations. The ones who are having virtual awards banquets without being able to congratulate their friends in person. The ones who will have a yearbook with blank pages where the sentiments of their peers should have been written.
The ones like my daughter. She auditioned and made the colorguard team just a couple of weeks before The Quarantine. She is also trying out for drum major of her high school band this month. A virtual audition. Thank goodness for technology! So she isn’t sure which position she will be in just yet. But she might not even get to choose.
Because will we even have marching band and football season this fall? While the community mourns the losses of the graduating seniors of 2020, I have to wonder what losses the Class of 2021 will be forced to endure. What will her senior year look like? Will things get to go back to normal in time for school to start? And just what is normal now anyway?
Will teachers have to wear masks? Will the students? What will school even look like in a few months? Could they still be e-learning? Social distancing? Will their schedules be staggered? Will there be lunch with friends? Or even a chance for PDA in the hallways? What will normal look like and how will we know when we have reached normal?
What is this strange time we are living in? When the worries that have been normal to me and my anxious brain, but seem neurotic to others. Those worries have become the new normal. A time when I am not the only one obsessed with germs. A time when we are ordering groceries online to be delivered so that we can avoid people. And we wipe down our delivered goods with disinfectant.
It is a time when we are getting refunds for the Jazz Fest tickets that we purchased months ago. An event we were looking forward to attending.
It is a time when Disney World closed. Closed. Until a time we don’t know yet. A time when families who have worked so hard to save and plan a magical vacation will have to cancel.
It is a time when weddings are being postponed.
It is a time when what seems like everything about the world as we know it has stopped. Even teeth cleaning and pap smears and mammograms aren’t happening.
It is a time when so many are working harder than they ever signed up to do. The ones who don’t have time to slow down. The ones who are risking their health everyday in order to take care of everyone else.
It is a time when others have no choice and cannot work at all. Has wondering how the bills will be paid and the groceries will be bought become their new normal?
It is a time when all we can plan on is waiting for this new normal to arrive.
And while we wait? We are learning more about ourselves. And those around us too. We struggle with our thoughts. Anger. Denial. Sadness. Frustration. Depression. Anxiety. Heightened emotions of every kind.
Some of us are baking and gardening and scrubbing and painting and moving and moving and moving.
Others are trying to disregard the situation and attempt to do the normal things as if we are still in a normal time. The old normal, that is.
There is compassion. And disrespect too. Selflessness and selfishness.
Here in my world, there has been a lot of binge watching shows on Netflix. There has been eating more junk than we care to admit. And lots of late, late nights of being awake. Sometimes by choice, but lately because we just can’t sleep. There have been just as many late mornings. Some because some of us can sleep late if we want to.
There has also been lots of schooling. Completing my second semester of grad school. My daughter continuing to excel academically despite the transition to e-learning.
There have been tears. And depression. And anxiety. And fear. All of which is okay. Normal. As long as we don’t stay there, right?
There has also been gratitude. I am one of the lucky ones still being paid even though my work has completely changed. Mostly, reveling in the glory of my introverted world with loved ones who aren’t such bad company.
But what about those outside of my world? We are all on different pages. We don’t read at the same speed. We don’t always understand the words in black and white. Nor do we see the deeper meaning that isn’t always so obvious.
Because we all see the world a little differently. We have our own perspective. And it is up to us what we do with that. No matter what is out of our control right now, we still get to choose how we live. We get to choose whether or not to be rule followers. Or rebels. We can choose to be kind. Or to be assholes.
One thing that is for sure though is this. We will get through this like we get through all of the other life changing events that life throws our way. We might be changed for it, but we will persevere nonetheless. Because it is here. This new normal.
So whether or not I get to enter the classroom this August, I bought the bag. And you should too.