As I started to write this story, I learned my car needed an estimated $850 in repairs…all for being parked in the driveway for the past six months. The color drained from my face as I glanced at the clock—ten minutes until my shift to watch my daughter started, relieving my husband as we both worked while caregiving—and all I could do was delete the one measly paragraph I’d written here, because it no longer made sense.
Make no mistake: I realize how fortunate I am to even call these things problems. But still, the call from the mechanic caused a full-on panic attack. Possibly because it signaled that the struggles from the past year were far from over.
You see, just before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in the U.S., my husband, one-year-old daughter and I went to Florida to visit my parents for the week. We wound up quarantining there for six months, and in the process, gained a new appreciation for family, the ability to live with less (since we essentially lived out of a suitcase all that time)—and for the Southern staple of biscuits and gravy (as my forever-tightening pants can attest).
Somehow during that time, I held onto the hope that when we finally returned to New York, it meant that the worst was behind us. We’d be entering a brave, new post-COVID world. We’d host a Halloween party that had nothing to do with Zoom. Or invite friends over to watch football on Sunday, without worrying about communal chip bowls and masks. But as any human living in America can attest, we’re not post-COVID by any means, so when the time came to come back to New York, we put on our masks, packed gloves and Clorox wipes for any pit stops, and road-tripped it home to create our new normal.