What is there to say?

When I started on this journey, I wanted to create a home where I could be proud to host guests, turn it into a sanctuary for myself and others to lay our heads, to put our feet up, to feel safe enough to laugh or cry or rage at what’s going on in the world. For the past six weeks, that’s been various levels of impossible, with new rules around physical distancing, shops being closed or on reduced hours, and a very real and present fear of a virus that strikes seemingly at random with varying levels of intensity.

I didn’t do lots in the months of March and April, but maybe I’ll just have to be OK with doing what I can and letting the rest go. Who knows when I’ll be able to have friends over again? But when I do, I’ll have done a ton of work behind the scenes.

March: “Say…. What?”

The world as north America has known it is altered drastically in the month of March. The first case of Coronavirus is announced in Alberta on March 5. Around this time, I’m contemplating buying a couple of low-maintenance plants – something that surprises almost anyone who’s met me. I kill plants. I don’t know what makes me think I can keep one plant – much less four – alive, but a friend and I go plant shopping. I bring home two aloes, an air plant, and an unspecified succulent I like. I alter their placement once or twice, settling on one aloe in the dining room and one in the Holey room, with the air plant and succulent in my beading room.

I get a brief rush from getting rid of a few objects that serve a practical purpose, but bring up seriously bad memories. But after that, I struggle to find the motivation to keep on top of even maintenance cleaning. My body is beat up from marathon training, and the more news I hear, the more likely it seems that the race in Vancouver will be canceled. When the announcement of the BMO marathon cancellation is made on March 13, I spiral down down down…

I spend ten days self-isolating – a word that’s become as common to me as “coffee”. I sleep a lot, I have a cough that’s not frequent, but when it hits it’s fierce. My other symptoms come and go in waves, and while they are mild, they are weird. I’m bored and restless and scared and confused and sad… and have no energy for anything besides feeding my cat and dog, sometimes feeding myself, remembering to water my plants. I am glad to get back to work after ten days of this nonsense, and am even more grateful to be symptom free. The streets of downtown Edmonton are ghostly quiet, and it takes a huge amount of energy to do my job, go home, and keep things going with some semblance of normalcy.



April: “We didn’t Do Much, but We Got a Lot Done”

My partner arrives in early April. It’s like he never left in February. I’m feeling more settled, more rested, more like I can take on things. But life is different. Physical distancing means I can’t run with a human guide, so I’m taking Jenny out for shorter runs and hoping we can build up her speed and endurance. Buses are run on decreased frequency, so commuting presents some interesting challenges. I find more stores that have reduced hours. I seem to luck out and find slots of time where I can order grocery delivery. Friends pick up groceries sometimes, too – for things that go bad prematurely, or things that couldn’t be found in big grocery runs.

Three of my four plants survive. One of the aloes appears to have gotten too much sun, and becomes crispy at the tips. The other is salvageable once it gets re-potted. If I kill an air plant, I’m not sure if I should be impressed or horrified. but the unnamed succulent – heretofore known as Happy Plant – is sprouting flowers almost daily and spreading out happily.

The last weekend in April, the snow is gone. My partner and I tackle the back yard. We move a bunch of stuff to a pile that’s meant to go to the Ecostation when we have access to a truck. We clear off the back patio so we can sweep all the winter gunk off of it. I drop part of a bird bath on my foot, which means I’m relegated to carrying things that are very light, and walking gingerly. The shed is cleared out, and an informal inventory taken. There’s an abundance of shovels and a scarcity of rakes. I discover I’m creeped out by wasps while removing the biggest (dead) wasp’s nest I’ve ever seen in my life. The back yard looks like a garden shed blew up on it…. but maybe it’s okay.

“You know,” my partner says that evening as we’re preparing a steak dinner, “we didn’t do a lot, but we got a lot done.” I ponder that sentiment for days, and there’s a lot of truth to it. Effort is important, but sometimes you can accomplish a lot by doing a few little things that make a big difference.

I can’t wait until the day when my home can contain the laughter of a group of friends around a communal table of food. But until then, I’m content. Spring is in the air. I’m healthy and happy and safe. A brand new coffee maker has taken up residence where a broken-down Keurig made it’s last pod of coffee this morning. I can make plants grow. The beading room has been converted into an office. I’m slightly less intimidated by my house itself, coming to compassionate terms with my part in its prior neglect. I have a feeling that things might just be okay.