The last eight months or so of the pandemic have moved by at an incredibly rapid pace and glacially slow at the same time. Prior to ye old COVID-19, life had a sort of cadence for me, though there were plenty of imbalances. With all of that upset, we’ve all tried to find ways to achieve normalcy. During the beginning of the pandemic, we escaped to a rural ski area a few hours from our house in western Maryland. A friend had a vacation house there they weren’t using, and with the pandemic ramping up rental homes were closed for a period of time due to state regulations. We ventured back to the DC area after a few weeks away and mostly just stayed home for the summer.
During that time, we bought an RV and a pickup truck after renting some RVs this summer to figure out what we liked. It became pretty clear to me I wasn’t getting back on a plane this year, so we found alternative means to travel. That lead our family to Disney World for a 3-week camping trip. As the crowds grew at Disney, we grew less comfortable. We headed home without much of a plan for our next trip.
Some family medical matters kept us close to home. As those matters improved recently, we decided to sneak away to western Maryland again and spend a few days at our friend’s vacation home after Thanksgiving to enjoy some time away. We packed in a frenzy on Friday. Very little planning had been done due to school schedules, doctor appointments and a crazy pace of COVID-19 and other issues at work. In the midst of all this I’m in the middle of launching a new project I can’t wait to share with you all soon.
At any rate, we packed everything up, including the dog and headed back up to the mountains. With a cooler full of Thanksgiving leftovers and a late start we didn’t arrive to the house until 10pm with two tired kids. Oddly, there were cars parked in front of the house and lights were on. The house was supposed to be empty, or so we thought.
As we pulled into a nearby grocery store parking lot, I had a sinking feeling. Sure enough, as I checked my laptop I realized I had booked the house for the wrong check-in night. As it neared 10:30 in this sleepy mountain town, it was clear to me that most of the sidewalks were already rolled up. Internet searches and phone calls yielded not much of anything available on a holiday weekend.
We were pretty much reduced to bribing the front desk clerk at a Quality Inn where all the pet-friendly rooms were already sold out. Our son had decided he would sleep on the floor of the minivan next to our dog. And, then I remembered one other set of cabins set up high on a hill near the edge of town. With no idea what the name or phone number was, we drove over and were lucky enough to grab the last room (and they were okay with the dog).
Late at night, with our daughter’s anxiety in the back of my mind, I started to unpack the car and try to get us situated in our room for one night. I expected her to be incredibly uneasy due to her fear of germs and catching COVID-19. To this point, she had been unwilling to spend a night in a hotel. She’s almost single-handedly keeping Clorox in business with the number of disinfectant wipes she uses. I expected my wife to be frustrated that we spent all that time rushing to get packed up, only to find out I can’t read a calendar.
Surprisingly to me, there was no stress at all. Everyone was laughing. Well, other than me, who still feels like an idiot for not being able to read a calendar. And yet, my wife and kids just made the best of it. Even our daughter, who would normally spiral out of control quickly in a situation like this, found ways to adapt.
“Normal” Is What You Make It
What’s the point of this little fable? There really is no normal now. I won’t waste your time with talk of pandemics and politics. The world is far from any semblance of normal. But, in the end, we each choose our own path. Our family had a choice last night. There was an easy scapegoat. The situation was far from ideal.
Everyone chose the good path, the one where we already started laughing about the unfortunate nature of our situation. And, the cabin really wasn’t all that bad. I’m sure I’ll get some good-natured ribbing about my inability to read a calendar over the years to come. For now, the best parts of our family (my wife’s influence, for sure) stood out and we all laughed off a bad day.
Almost 1,000 words later, the point is we each make a choice on how we handle situations that are less than ideal. I actually have a podcast segment coming with a good friend who went through a situation that was easily ten times worse than the one we found ourselves in this evening. After his disaster weekend, he was still energized and ready to get back out there for another trip.
As we stand here months away from “normal” travel for most people, it’s still on each of us to make our own normal. You can choose to see the worst in a situation, or you can, as the saying goes, make lemonade out of lemons.
The Final Two Pennies
As we were driving up here last night, I was thinking about how much I enjoy the ongoing conversation you and I have had as author and reader for so long. I miss the frequency of those conversations, even at the same time that I enjoy the production of my podcast each week. I had this plan laid out to get organized in a relaxing, mountain setting and begin writing all the stories that are cooped up inside my head. Life had a different plan for our first day here, but I’m still excited about getting back to the keyboard.