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Windy outside, this first Monday of January. I need to package some things up for a return. I need to mail my mom’s birthday card. I need to sit down and write. I need to get ready for work. 

I need I need I need

A few years ago, I realized I used the phrase “make time” a lot. I’ll make time for it, I would say, for whatever it was: more work, a run. At some point I realized that it was the strangest thing to say. How could I make time? I could not. I cannot. Time cannot be made. 

This morning, I would like to simply enjoy my coffee. I would like to have slept past 4:45. I would like to not go to work, to not send my baby to daycare, because it seems sort of nutty to do such things when there’s this unpredictable virus swirling about in the windy air. 

I often think we’ve learned nothing in this pandemic, and I’m so disappointed by that. I wish that this huge moment in our lives had made us stop and: realize we’re more alike than different; agree on social safety nets that actually help; give into the idea that if we pay people to do what they love, they will be happier. Instead, it seems like we’re in this fourth (?) wave and we’ve got people on the front lines who are burned out; people still refusing to wear masks or still somehow wearing them below their noses; a system more run by economics than health, well-being, or joy. 

Of course there have been moments of coming together during this time. We are, after all, wearing masks for the most part. And science is amazing: these vaccines! these boosters! Where did they come from so quickly? From the brains of brilliant people who have studied such things for a long time, who put their knowledge together so that we could all benefit. 

Remember how in the beginning of the pandemic, there were shopping times at grocery stores specifically for older people, for people at higher risk? Remember how strangers clapped for healthcare workers? Remember how people chalked encouraging messages on the sidewalks: we’re in this together?

Argh. 

On Christmas, I found out that my baby and I had been directly exposed to Covid. One of the dearest people in our small circle – who is vaccinated and responsible – tested positive. My blood ran cold; we’ve been so careful. She sobbed, worried that my baby would contract it, and that broke my heart too: it was not her fault. Of course. 

So we followed the CDC guidelines; my baby went into quarantine. He had a great time. We spent our days toddling around the house, played the best games with the laundry basket, tried new foods. When the weather was good, we went for walks outside, or to the beach. He pointed a lot, and we walked where he wanted to go. He smiled and laughed and I did too. 

I rapid-tested every morning; PCRed when I could. Negative negative negative negative. The pediatrician said not to test the baby unless he showed symptoms, which he never did. 

We are, it seems, fine. 

I can only think that’s because of my vaccine, booster, and – for him – breastmilk. I am enormously, gigantically grateful for all of that. I’d like to buy coffee – maybe something stronger – for everyone who has made it all possible: the scientists, the healthcare workers, the volunteers, my friends. 

Now it’s Monday, and it’s windy outside, and the virus still catches its ride on that breeze. I have to go to work. My baby has to go to daycare. I will put on my KN95 and I will worry and I will somehow find a way to pretend that everything is fine. 

6:26 a.m., the third of January. I am already exhausted. I have not yet figured out how to make time, much less put it on hold.

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