Sometimes when I think about how I’ve lived for the last nine months, it reminds me of summer vacations growing up in my little Midwest town. My family seldom traveled, and with basically just a library, a gas station, and a café, it was not exactly a cultural or commercial hub. We had no cable, no Netflix, no computers.
The pressure was on us to liven things up. My two sisters and I read books, rode bikes, made up games to play, played catch and badminton in the yard, learned board games, and spent a lot of time outside when the weather allowed.
Growing up I thought my family lived in a vortex of boring. I’ve written about this before, but after high school my eyes and heart were totally focused on city life. In a city, I would become cosmopolitan, I would always find entertainment, and I would never be bored again!
Life in the city has certainly proven not boring most days. Still, there are ways that the city day to day in the pandemic is oddly similar to some of those listless feelings I recall from childhood.
While I’m fortunate to be employed and to work from home through this, my movements are essentially limited to the places outside where my two feet can take me. My in-person interactions are essentially limited to Felkerino and my friend C. We do not go into restaurants and the only place I really visit is the grocery store and the pavement in front of Peregrine Coffee. We do not travel, and life is very small again.
To help me handle the repetitive nature of this time and to manage the thoughts flitting through my head, I realized that I’ve focused on the details of every day that bring happiness or comfort.
Today I went running in the snow (D.C. had snow for the first time in three years!), listened to the quiet that a little white blanket of precipitation can bring, and thought about how moment to moment life has become for me these days. This is often disconcerting, as I prefer to concentrate on the road ahead.
But it’s a worthy exercise to be obligated into a more present state and to make peace with that as I can. As I ran along, I saw a couple of families out who had found some hilly spots for sledding. At my halfway point, I paused and dipped my mitten in the snow. Damp and clingy, perfect snowball snow. Ideal snowman snow!
I put my mileage goal on pause and got to work rolling up three balls of the white stuff. I spied some promising arm and leg branches, and scoured the space for rocks that would turn into the eyes and nose of my snow day masterpiece. Nobody was about, and it was so quiet and fun. Fun.
I don’t know how much time I spent making my little snowman. I’m not sure how many miles I could have run instead of focusing on this remnant activity from childhood. I didn’t care. I was bringing the snow to life, a brand new companion who didn’t require me to maintain six feet of distance. Ah, it was great!
After finishing my snowman, I gave it my hat and mittens, until my fingers started begging me to take the mittens back. I pulled them onto my hands again, and returned my hat to my head.
I gave my snowman a final pat on the head and wished him well. Thanks for showing me the way to fun today, Snowman. Rolling you to life helped me embrace the present. See you again next snowfall.