Thursday, April 9, 2020

Looking Ahead

My original Spring Break plans had me staying in Lexington, VA tonight.  I would have been on my way back from Asheville and stopping along the way for a trip to nearby Natural Bridge.  I've been to both Lexington and Natural Bridge so at least I can imagine myself there--walking the wide path along Cedar Creek to a view of the stunning limestone arch.

Frustration filled me for all of a minute today.  While I'm disappointed that my road trip plans didn't work out I'm happy to be feeling safe and healthy at home.

Okay, so I'm sort of happy.  Nonetheless, there's no point in sitting around feeling sorry for myself- especially when I'm sitting here with everything I need. 

But eventually, I think I'll need a vacation.  So today I told my sister to start planning our month-long stay in Northern England next summer.  She brought it up to me a few months ago and I pretty much shut her down.  I wasn't ready to make any sort of commitment for the summer of 2021.  Now I think it will be nice to have something to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Slow Change

For the past six weeks, I've been working out some back problems with physical therapy.  I was in pretty poor shape when I started- my back muscles were guarding to such an extent that it was next to impossible for me to roll from my back to my side without grimacing in pain.

At that point, my only goal was to feel better by April 4- in time for Spring Break.  The student intern who saw me at my first appointment assured me that wouldn't be a problem.  I can't say I believed him back then, but I think that's just because I was in so much pain.

Who could have ever guessed how my world would change over the course of six weeks?  Certainly, not me.

Over the course of the last six weeks school has closed.  My student intern has left and will be one of those students who graduates without a graduation ceremony.  I'm no longer running to an appointment after school- with my wide-open schedule I'm more likely to be there around noon each day.  There are fewer people sharing the therapy space.  Just last week my therapist called to change my appointment so she could spread out her patients.  She used to see two people at a time.  The silver lining of the pandemic is that I am her only patient so I get a whole bunch of individual attention.

Over the last three weeks, I've often questioned if showing up for therapy was the wisest decision.  Every time I've gone in I've watched as my therapist disinfected anything that was touch by me or anyone else.  And so, I've continued going.

Today I walked in and found all the therapists, and many of the patients, wearing masks.  It was my last appointment and I was glad about that.

My back?  It feels good- just as promised six weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Where I'm From

"That grass looks amazing!"

It was hard to get over how great the grass at the National Mall looked this morning.  I met up with three other humans and two other dogs for a socially distant walk along the mall.

"America's Front Yard" will always have a special place in my heart along with the Smithsonian museums that line its border.  You see, it was a clerk typist job in the Arts and Industries building that brought me to the area.

When I told my former boss at The Bank of Baltimore that I was moving south to the DC area she laughed.

"I shouldn't be surprised, you've been drinking coffee out of that Smithsonian mug for 6 months now."

The Smithsonian didn't turn out to be a career kind of position but the friends I made there did turn out to be life-changing.  Many sunny lunch hours were spent under a tree on the mall with my work peers.  For the most part, we had come to DC in search of the next thing.  In time, we would all find it.  One went on to a career in personal management, one found a career in law, and I found a career in education.

My five years there was a blip of a federal career but it was a time I'll always treasure.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Keeping to Myself

Once again the weather beckoned.  So today I found myself about 30 miles south at a state park on the Potomac.  The new normal that meant I never had to touch my brake for slowing traffic while driving south on 95.  For a moment I considered driving as far south as I could, just so I could feel like I was actually on Spring Break. 

The long drive south didn't happen...of course it didn't.  After all, this is supposed to be a tough week Covid19-wise so the less interaction I have with others the better.  That's exactly what I kept at the forefront of my mind when I saw the Wawa on the side of the road near my destination.  Yes, it would have been great to run in for my favorite chicken salad club but for sure the virus could be in there.

Today I settled for a walk along the river in Leesylvania State Park.  There were a few people around but not so many that I couldn't easily keep my distance.  Checking out the parking lots, empty storefront and boat docks I could imagine what it must look like on a crowded summer day.  Today the beach was empty except for a few fishermen.  People strolled on trails but moved to the side whenever they came upon someone else.

The water was quiet and mesmerizing today.  Walking along the path I kept my eyes on the sky in hopes of an eagle sighting.  No luck.  The marshes were quiet as well, there would be no turtle sightings along the way.  Even so, it was a pretty perfect visit to a new-found park. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Wide Open Spaces

It's just there are only so many places to go these days. 

I wasn't all that surprised at the number of people out on the bike trail.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining so, of course, the outdoors were calling to more than just me.  I headed west on the trail and found myself just past National Airport at the usually popular Gravelly Point.

The parking lot was empty but there were still a large number of people milling around.  It was enough people to make me wonder just how smart it was to be there myself.  So, a u-turn was made and a new, less-crowded path was found.

No doubt, it will be more and more difficult to find places to get outside while maintaining the appropriate distance from others.  Even so, I'll take on that challenge.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Looking Forward

Just a few days ago, in a low moment, I said to my sister, "So I guess I'll have my birthday all by myself this year."

Fortunately, as soon as I spit out my pity party for one I remembered one important detail- "But, I still have that ice cream cake Kathy gave me last year, so I'm good!"

Obviously, there are many, many people worse off than me in this world so it's only fitting that my little pity party shut down after about thirty seconds.

And then there's all the technology-

This evening I hosted a Zoom happy hour birthday party for a close friend.  Nine of us got together through the power of Zoom to hang out, chat and sing happy birthday.  At one point, the birthday girl herself took to her piano and delighted us all with a little "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  Thankfully, Zoom waived the 40-minute limit, allowing us to chat for over two hours.

Seeing all my girlfriends, along with their husbands and dogs was just what I needed at the end of the week.

When the meeting ended I immediately set up our next get together.  I'll see them next week and the week after and the week after and...

...that makes me happy.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Waiting Patiently

It's hard to say how I would have been feeling today, one day before Spring Break, if I was still teaching in my classroom. Sure, I would be exhausted but I think it would be more of a physical exhaustion.

The exhaustion I'm feeling today is mostly mental. Honestly, I have gotten more sleep and exercise in the last three weeks than I have in months.  So, physically I am feeling good. 

My days are now filled with spurts of educational coaching.  Yes, coaching...not teaching. And then I've been doing quite a bit of wondering.  I'm wondering how this is all going to turn out? How is this school year going to turn out?  What will I be asked to do, as a teacher, after Spring Break?

That last question was sort of answered in a 10-page email today.  I'm sure it was meant to make me feel better, to make me feel like there's a plan going forward--but it didn't.  I'm left with more questions, more things to wonder about and more mental exhaustion.

Fortunately, I know myself.  I know I'm scrappy and in the end, I'll figure it all out.  I also know that Spring Break is less than 24 hours away so for now, that's all I'm going to think about.