Day…I have no idea: Tele-working in the time of COVID-19

It’s been eleven days since I began working from home. Eleven days when our world went from a cautionary tale to survivalist novel. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions, to say the least. I’ve had at least two good cries and a handful of moments when silent tears come quick and I don’t even realize they are there until they are halfway down my face. For the most part, I’ve remained hopeful and optimistic, at least during the day. At night, that’s a different story.

For the past year or so, my sleep patterns have not been good. I wake up intermittently throughout the night, sometimes I’m able to fall back to sleep while others I stare in the darkness for hours, my mind a fast-paced movie reel of worries, what if’s and work. Now, when I find myself staring at the ceiling, my mind imagines what normal life will be, is this now our normal, who will I lose to this virus and will that loss be me.

Then, I run through my list of what-I-miss: going out to eat; live music; my normal work routine; and most importantly, hugs. I come from a hugging family and it’s hard to drop off essentials with a wave. I drive off thinking that if that were to be the last time I would see them, I only waved. How horrific. Twice, I’ve almost driven back to my parent’s house for a hug.

Then, I run through my list of grateful: the ability to work from home; my loving Beatrice, Executive Assistant, who began snoring during a Zoom meeting on Friday; technology that allows me to see and talk to my parents and siblings every day; my extended yoga/mediation practice (it’s amazing what I have time for in the morning without having to shower, put on “real” clothes and drive to work – oh, and I can wear my favorite Cicada t-shirt by local artist, Delilah Reed); sitting on the couch with my husband and watching artists from all over the country livestream their music from their living rooms (like Dave Matthews as part of Verizon’s PayitForwardLIVE to support small businesses) and time to read and write.

Usually, during my list of grateful, I fall back to sleep. I do hope what comes from all of this is a greater sense of gratitude. That as a society, we will put down our phones and go back to the things that kept us human – conversation, gatherings with family and/or friends, watching sunsets, and allowing ourselves time to breathe. We’ve become a people always rushing to the next thing, whether it’s the next meeting or next iPhone, and we seem to do so with our heads down. I hope we relearn to look up – to see the sky, to notice the new buds on the trees, to appreciate the architecture of the buildings in our own hometowns, and to truly see one another’s faces. I hope we appreciate the smallest of gestures, like stopping to chat at your co-worker’s cubicle to ask about their weekend, joking with strangers in the grocery checkout line, listening to your favorite song while stuck in traffic on the way to work, and the familiar smells of your childhood home.

This morning, which took me a moment to realize is Saturday, I opened Facebook, which just three weeks ago I was planning to delete. The first two things I read made me laugh out loud and cry. This is the first:

I continued to giggle while sharing on our private familia page. And the second made me cry with hope and a bit of sadness because it reminded me of my friends and family who are alone in their homes or apartments. I’ve been doing my best this week to text or call them. Even me, who loves her alone time, cannot imagine spending 30 days alone – just your voice, your footsteps – the inner strength they must have at times to get through the day.

Stay strong, friends. We’ve always been in this life together, but we need to remember this now more than ever. We will all be found.

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