Looking back

A year in, I find myself thinking back to the beginnings. In January of 2020 we had early reports, increasing in February, but life went on mostly as normal anyway. There was a local SCA event on March 7, and part of me wanted to stay home but our choir was performing and a friend was coming in from out of town to attend (and crash with us), and we went and had a lovely time -- and a healthy one, fortunately.

Purim was a few days later, and at the last minute I decided not to go to a large gathering. (They advised the elderly to stay home, but they didn't cancel.) Our Shabbat minyan met on March 14, but we moved into the sanctuary, where the 25 or so of us could spread out in a room that seats over 300. We didn't know then, but it would be the last time we met in person for more than a year.

Over that weekend, or maybe Monday, the state had some early rumblings of a stay-at-home order. It must not have taken effect immediately, because I remember going into the office on the following Monday, and taking some equipment home with me so I could work from home. Our office formally closed around Wednesday, I think, but it was a formality; we'd all decided by then that staying home was the wiser move. And soon there was a stay-at-home order from the state.

My choir had cancelled that week's practice, and the director cancelled through the end of the month, with the idea that we'd look at other options (outdoors? a really large space? the home we were practicing in was clearly out of consideration). We were so optimistic back then, despite the warnings we'd gotten from other parts of the world. It wasn't that we thought we were invulnerable; rather, we thought that with a little care, one could mitigate the risk without having to completely isolate. Ha.

Working from home required some adjustment, and I made another trip to the office (on Easter Sunday, when I figured no one would be around) to get a better chair and a less-bad keyboard. I didn't pick up my company fleece (which stayed at my desk because our HVAC was unpredictable), thinking we were heading into summer and we'd be back by winter. Our company announced that offices would be closed for a few months, and then a few more, and then a few more -- basically, each quarter they moved the date out another quarter. They've recently taken a bigger leap; we're closed through July at least, and we've been told some offices won't reopen and people will switch to permanently working from home, though we don't know which locations yet. (They'd signed a five-year lease for ours in January of 2020. I wonder what that cost.)

That first Shabbat with no minyan felt very strange. So did the next one, and the one after that, and Pesach especially (Zoom seder, set up before nightfall). That spring was supposed to be marked by celebrations for our long-serving rabbi who was retiring at the end of June. Yeah, that didn't happen. By sometime in June I was feeling isolated enough from the minyan, and the Conservative movement had put out that ruling about Zoom, that I started joining the minyan in a completely passive way, setting up the Zoom connection before Shabbat and just listening and watching. It's better than nothing, but not by a lot. As the months have gone on I've felt more and more disconnected from my community.

Origins (gaming con) was first postponed and then cancelled, and Pennsic was of course cancelled. But the quarantine brought some new opportunities too; Hadar's week-long summer seminar moved online, so I used some now-reclaimed Pennsic vacation days to attend. I've done a little online board-gaming, with mixed results. Dani and I now play games every Shabbat afternoon, always including a few rounds of Pandemic because, well. It's time to look for some more games that work well for two players; we could use more variety.

I've had more time to spend on Codidact, which is good, but also have limits to how long I can sit in front of computers in my office each day, so I'm also doing more leisure reading. I seem to be preferring shorter works; I don't know if that's a change in attention span or something else. Somewhere in there I read Survivors, the novel based on a TV show I enjoyed some years back. The novel is different. Terry Nation is kind of a bastard, authorially.

Last spring I grew some of my own food, for basically the first time, because we didn't know how bad the food shortages were going to be and I figured every little bit helps, even though it's not like we were going to feed ourselves just on my tiny garden ministrations. I'll do it again this year, with some changes in what I grow (to be determined), but still in pots. I learned last year that the sunny spots in May are not necessarily sunny in August or October, but I can move pots.

Things in the US are finally trending in the right direction, though it's a fragile thing and vaccines are racing against mutant strains. We're forever changed; I marvel that even now people talk about "going back to normal", as if there aren't going to be permanent changes. I don't know what all those permanent changes will be, but surely they will exist. We're not "going back"; we'll eventually move ahead to new ways of working and dining and interacting and living.