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The Mom Stop column: Emerging from the pandemic cave

Lydia Seabol Avant
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Cheboygan Daily Tribune

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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For almost four months, my family has been living in a bit of a pandemic cave, hiding from the rest of the world as much as possible, while still getting out for necessities while being socially distant.

As a family of five, we normally bounce from soccer practice to ballet practice to scouts during the school year and spend much of the summer months at the local pool or visiting family - the “new normal” was jarring at first. But we got used to the face masks and fogged glasses. The kids got used to being home and unfortunately not playing as much with their friends in person, but instead messaging them or having play dates online. As hard as it is not going out to eat at restaurants, which we do usually weekly, we’ve embraced to-go meals and drive-thrus and are cooking foods at home we’ve never tried before.

Life has adjusted.

But just as jarring as it has been to live in “pandemic” life, it’s also an adjustment to do something seemingly new - flying in a COVID world. Flying across the country was not something I would have chosen in the midst of a pandemic with ever increasing numbers, especially in the South. But, with my late Dad’s house on the market in California, we got a call from our realtor the day it listed with good news. It was time to fly out there fast. I had to get what few items I had stored in the garage and ship them back to Alabama. It was time to say goodbye to the house.

I packed my bags, along with some Lysol wipes, rubber gloves and an N94 mask given to me by a neighbor for my flights, and a few other masks to wear during my stay. Having flown to California a handful of times in the last year, I felt it would be just another trip. But, unlike so many of my other trips, the airport was empty, save for the passengers on my particular flight. I made the mistake of heading to the airport without eating breakfast, figuring I’d grab airport food for lunch before my 1p.m. flight. Only, all the airport restaurants were closed and locked up. The terminals looked almost apocalyptic. While boarding, masks were required and the middle seats were left vacant. Instead of snacks while in the air, we were offered water along with a straw.

I felt relatively safe flying, and imagined what life would be like when I arrived in California, where masks are now required to be worn in public statewide. But as I drove into my late dad’s beachside hometown, I noticed the people enjoying meals outside restaurants on bistro tables. At shops, many people happily shopped with no masks. And people pack the beaches, even in the overcast weather, surfing and enjoying the pebbled shore.

After life living the pandemic life, it feels somewhat eerie being in a place that seems so normal. As I write this, I’m overlooking the San Clemente pier, watching families bring their families in from the day at the beach, with beach gear in tow. Living so close to the coast, where it always feels like summer, it must be easy to forget the health crisis going on in the outside world - but surely it must be going on here, too.

While I’m still wearing masks in California, I’ve been around more people than usual, as I donate, sell or ship what’s left in the family home. And I’ve learned to enjoy what I can.

It’s been a long four months since I’ve gone out to eat, but yesterday I went to my favorite pier restaurant and sat at a table outside, overlooking the crashing waves. As I sat by myself, drinking my mocha and eating a crab and feta omelet, life felt almost normal. At least for a second. But afterward I had to remember my mask.

Life felt normal, but I had to remember it’s not. At least, not yet.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.