Just a few weeks ago it seemed as if all the plot points of our lives had fallen into place. We’d found where we wanted to live and the drive across the country from L.A. to Atlanta would be our new adventure. The icing on the cake was that I’d found my dream job. It was to be the start of an exciting future.
They say timing is everything and I thought my timing was perfect.
If you know me, you know that although I’m extremely risk-averse, I’ve made huge life changes in the last decade, and I pivot out of fear of not pivoting.
So, when the opportunity became available for me to leave my job with a livable wage, walkable from my apartment and risk the instability of a new job in a new city where I’d never lived before, I leaped. The decision to jump felt exhilarating — that was until the world suddenly and without warning turned into an infectious and frightening place — but we’ll get to that in a bit.
While National Parks were still open we stopped at the Grand Canyon. I saw it for the first time and was awed. We drove through vast miles dotted with Nations, with me looking for Cherokee (supposedly the Nation of my grandmother), and we talked for hours about “the colonizers” and man’s inhumanity to man. We listened to the musical “Hamilton.” Neither of us had any idea how unbelievably beautiful, powerful, compelling, and simply perfect it is. Roger called Lin Manuel-Miranda an “American treasure.” We experienced the memorial site where the Oklahoma City bombing took place, killing 168 people, including 19 children. We stopped in Memphis to see a friend. Her son was sick, so we never connected. Maybe that was a sign. We did see the Lorraine Hotel and took photos of the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered.
We spent more hours talking about America’s bloody history and pushed back the slow-building fear that this virus might impact our new city and maybe even my new job.
But, when we arrived we were buoyant by all the newness and the virus was pushed out of our minds.
I went to the CNN building on my first day, was offered “elbow bumps” by my new colleagues, got my credentials, and was handed a Lysol wipe in the training classroom. Again, the fear started to bubble up, and I was able to tamp it down.
Another training day. It was Friday, March 13. The teacher announced she’d be working from home the following week. I stopped by my supervisor’s desk in the newsroom and she told me she’d likely have me back the following week for shadowing. “Working with my training wheels,” she said. “We’ll likely be setting people up with laptops to allow them to work from home. But there aren’t enough to go around,” she told me. My anxiety was rising, but I was told to come in on Monday afternoon.
My last day in the newsroom, that Monday, March 17, had maybe eight people in it, spread out, with three to 10 desks between them. I did my training for about three hours and went home.
The next day, crickets from my supervisor. My training partner told me via text that she wasn’t sure what was happening, but that all the shows I was meant to work on had been canceled. Now, was the time to panic. I was effectively put “on a hold.”
I’ve secured some temporary work. I’ve had a good cry. My husband has whispered comforting things in my ear. My son and his girlfriend will soon be an hour away, not 2,173 miles, and I’m healthy. We’re staying with family until we move into our own place in a couple of weeks, and I’m desperately trying not to freak the fuck out.
That said… yesterday during our walk in the woods (a forest bath or Shinrin-Yoku in Japanese), a little boy about 4-years-old walked past us with his mother. He was yelling pretty loudly “We be die! We be die!” His mother turned to him in a calm voice and said, “We’ll all die. We’ll all die.” Then she turned to me and Roger, knowing that we’d heard the exchange, and said, “Thankfully, this walk is almost over.” We all laughed until I thought I might cry again.
Our greeting to each other as we come and go from the apartment now for our very brief outings to walk the dog or get fresh air is: “We be die.” We all laugh and know that it’s true. We will all die. Just hopefully not for a long time.