I'm familiar with the way a single life moves in cycles. I've watched mine start and stop multiple times. Sometimes, it's my health. Sometimes, it's my relationships. The year before and after giving birth contains its own series of beginnings and endings.
Now, we're facing the end of COVID-19 Quarantine.
Like all life cycles, I know this one will move in waves. My state, Georgia, has already begun the process of re-opening. Essays circulating across the nation question our governor's logic. Meanwhile, my 11-year-old glares at me from across our living room as I allow her grandfather to come inside from the back deck and stay past his usual time limit.
She knows it's good for his mind, but she also knows the battle against COVID-19 is far from over. She understands, perhaps more clearly than I do, that life may never resume its previous form.
I make it a point to learn from her. That's why I'm spending my quarantine working diligently toward securing the loose ends of the life I had before. I'm confronting over 7 years of taxes. I'm closing the musical instrument business I've owned with my ex-husband. I'm establishing myself as a writer. I'm securing remote work which gives way more than it takes.
In this sense, the triumphs of my COVID-19 experience are chiefly financial, and my first day on the other side of quarantine represents my personal realization of the quintessential American Dream. Oddly, I want it so badly right now because my version of it provides a safe home base for life in a post-COVID world. To learn more, look closer at my ideal first day.
1. I pick up the key to my new rental home.
A new-to-us house with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms will allow us to cultivate an environment we're good staying in long term. A yard to fill with flowers and playthings will bring home a sense of adventure. Cozy covered porches accommodate guests too reluctant to come inside.
2. I finance a new-to-me car.
My current car constantly threatens to break down and has never been able to play the Billie Eilish CD my daughter got on her birthday last summer. We need a more reliable, comfortable vehicle for the trips we'll make post-pandemic. It's time to see the world one socially distanced nature park at a time and to catch up on movies at the drive-in.
3. I make the down payment on my daughter's middle school tuition.
Immediately prior to sheltering-in-place, my daughter shadowed a full day at The Academy, a hybrid school in Atlanta for students in grades 6-12. For those unfamiliar with the hybrid model, it blends elements of home school with elements of a traditional classroom setting.
At my daughter's future hybrid school, middle school classes meet on Mondays and Wednesdays. The teachers provide assignments for the students to complete at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Meanwhile, Fridays are an optional day for enrichment and the study of pop culture philosophy centered on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Good Place.
For my daughter, the hybrid school is a step toward integrating into a traditional system after spending her elementary years at home. For the world, hybrid schools are a natural step away from the crowded classrooms which closed down in March.
Check out what The Academy offers in their video invitation to a past open house.
4. I take a TerraPan to my integrative clinic and set up a treatment schedule.
Last year, I found a tumor in my left breast and began a non-traditional journey with cancer. It incorporates some surgery with the use of supplements, dietary changes and stress management. It allows for body scans and the consideration of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, it turns away from the endocrine therapies which potentially accelerated the progression of my mother's dementia when her doctors suspected she had hormone-based cancer ten or so years ago.
Of the integrative therapies, one I wholeheartedly embraced was the administration of intravenous vitamin C. The manager of my clinic liked the instruments my company produced, and I promised her that one day I would show up with one available for her to play and purchase. When quarantine ends, I'll be financially ready to resume my treatments with a TerraPan, our instrument, in hand.
To hear the instruments in action, check out this playlist.
5. I meet my parents at Schroeder's New Deli and walk the streets of Rome.
One of the places my mother clearly remembers is Schroeder's New Deli--a local landmark specializing in good subs, good pizza and good music. She fed me there during a childhood when I would eat little else. As an adult, gathering at Schroeder's tends to be a sign that everything will eventually be okay. Walking up and down Broad Street, where Schroeder's stands watch, feels much the same.
I grew up with Bob Dylan's music, and I think of his songs as I walk around my childhood town with my parents and children in a post-COVID world. Specifically, I focus on "When I Paint My Masterpiece." Dylan sings: Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble . Ancient footsteps are everywhere.
He's talking about Italy, but the sentiment applies here too. There is a lot of history in Rome, Georgia, USA. High water marks commemorating great floods decorate the sides of buildings, and the Gothic cemetery Myrtle Hill rises on terraces at the end of town, overlooking the confluence where three rivers meet on their way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Meanwhile, the banks team with life as shoppers stroll along the levy, homeless citizens seek shelter under the Heritage Park gazebo and otters play in the sunshine.
It's the perfect space to feel my cycles shifting. I honor the past and step forward into a new life where I get to feel more stable than ever as I face a future filled with uncertainty.
Here's Dylan's classic ballad by his band The Band.