The last time I wrote a blog post about the lockdown and the pandemic, it was April 8th, 2020 in a blog post called “Reflections on Anne Frank, Hiding and the Corona Virus Pandemic”. I was starting to realize that this lockdown was going to be longer than what the officials were telling us. It was eventually extended, making our “hiding” in place into the summer, about 3 1/2 months. From Mid-March to mid-June, I isolated in my San Jose condo. I didn’t fathom truly how it was going to affect us all except it could be as wide reaching as WWII. I could see it was going to shake up society, disrupt living, and likely change the world forever. I just didn’t know how it was going to do it, and how I’d survive it.
But I have to say, the hiding has worked out better for me than it did for Anne Frank. I guess that could be my Gen X cynical side speaking. Maybe because 2020 turned into a worse year than anyone could imagine for the last few generations. Maybe, it just takes a pandemic to really put things in perspective, just like a world war or other global event. This is my first global crisis of such proportions of a world war that I can understand some of what the Great Generation might have gone through now.
As I look back on my optimistic words from the beginning of April 2020, it was that hope that did get me through the year. With the political unrest in the US amid the pandemic, it just seemed like nothing was going right and everything was descending into chaos. But, the goal my husband and I had been working on for a few years, buying a house, seemed like it could still happen. I’d been wanting a house for a few decades, and my husband and I had been talking and doing some planning. Than, I got very sick, actually dying and was hospitalized. I pulled through that, and house buying had to be put off while I got better.
Finally, summer 2020 was going to be it, the time to buy a house. Then, the pandemic hit. But among all the goals that had to fall by the wayside, that one was still possible. Goals had to be literally and completely rethought through in the new world order that the pandemic created. House buying was one of the few industries left open during lockdown, because it was considered essential. People need shelter to isolate in.
So, buying a house seemed like a plausible way forward, especially if there was as resurge of virus in the winter and maybe living in a crowded city wouldn’t be the best. I had moved mostly to virtual teaching and freelance writing. My husband’s company had also moved to virtual working. So, we decided on the move. July we bid on a house, and after it was accepted, went through the escrow process.
In the middle of this, we managed a trip to Yosemite, just to get out and away from being locked down for months. With reservations made in April, we were able to enjoy a stay at the Awanhee’s cottages in the Yosemite Valley. Just being out on a trip seemed a victory after being in hiding from mid-March to June. The state of California seemed to emerge for the summer to enjoy some kind of living, masked, and at least more outdoors. RVs and Campers became the travel vehicle for the new “apocalypse” though I was a bit sad that there weren’t real “zombies”.
Small things became a little triumph. Biking around Yosemite Valley seemed monumental. Hiking along the trails were a new adventure, even though it was my fourth visit to Yosemite. When a mountain lion crossed the trail near by us, I was marveling at how close it was, but still keeping tabs on when it went by. It was exciting, but still, I was more afraid of the non-masked humans than the mountain lion in the end. But a trip out in nature, because outside and space from people was safe, was the new frontier.
It was exciting to get our new keys to our house Labor Day weekend. We started fixing up the house, and moving some of our things in. Each weekend, we moved our items ourselves because it was less exposure to people. Packing boxes and moving up to the house became a routine for a few weeks. Then, on a Sunday run up to our new house, a fire broke out around the area. Strong winds blew that night, with our internet being knocked out. It was the night I met my new neighbors, at a distance due to the pandemic, talking loud over strong winds about the emergency alert messages and whether to evacuate. Luckily, I found out from them that the town would sound sirens if we needed to evacuate, like what had been done in 2017. Falling asleep, I was awoken some hours later by the sirens. I evacuated hoping my new house would survive the Glass Fire.
The Glass Fire surrounded my new town, and my husband and I were evacuated for a week. We prayed and avoided the news as much as would could, afraid to see pictures of burning buildings that could be our house. We followed the CalFire map, watching the movement of the fire, having all our friends and family pray our new house would be okay. Luckily, the town was saved and our house. I had survived one of my worst weeks of 2020.
We finished with repairs and updating items in the house, and moved in beginning of November. By December, the SF Bay Area locked down again, and for 2 months, I isolated and stayed hiding again for a second lockdown. At least this time, I knew how to deal with it. It was a little trickier in a new house and town, but if anything, 2020 was an advanced course in adaptation and self reliance. I’d already realized that this was a historical time to live through, and I was so thankful for my new house and that it had survived. By the time I raised my champaign glass on New Year’s Eve, I was glad to see the year end.
I’d survived. 2020 was the strangest year I’ve ever lived through. It was an emotional roller coaster. The politics, protests, the election. The personal stories of COVID I saw and heard from friends. Friends had lost family members to COVID. I had family members that got sick with COVID, but luckily, survived. Of the other people I knew that had COVID, some were having long hauler symptoms. There are all these new terms now. But the biggest news as we entered 2021 has been about the vaccine. Everyone is waiting for their turn to get the jab.
I’ve just got to hold on now for the vaccine. I even made it into a doctor’s visit, and I think he summed up what is going on the best right now. I had asked about trying to sign up for the vaccine, and he answered, “Yeah, it’s like the Hunger Games.” He also recommended I continue “hiding” until I get the vaccine. So, it’s nice to be under doctors orders to continue to isolate, continue with this hiding plan. The craziness of trying to get an appointment are my new reality. I’m just too young right now, which is just crazy to hear. But I’ll hold on. I’ve made it through almost a year now. A few months waiting for a vaccine, no problem.
So, I have to report, through the things I lived through in 2020, I’ve kept that hope I saw so much with Anne Frank. You’ve got to keep that. It’s what helped me realize I could still go through the one goal dream of buying a house, and made it come true. I did finish my how to self publish guide too. It’s called “Get Ready to Push the Button: A Beginner’s Guide to Self Publishing”. I also published a picture book called “I Don’t Want to Wear a Mask!”. It’s about a young boy that has to return to school wearing a mask, and how he doesn’t want to do it. But his Mom explains to him why it’s important, and how he can be a hero if he wears a mask.
So, in a way, there was a lot of good that came out of 2020 for me and maybe some other people. Maybe that’s why Anne inspired me. You’ve got to work hard to turn the chaos around you into what you may want or the good that can come out of it. The phrase, “When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade” comes to mind. Boy, was there a lot of lemons to 2020. My lemonade might have been more sore, but I know there was some sugar in it.
All the reading, writing, and self reflection I think has just made me look at everything with a new lens. The world is different now after COVID. Maybe we were living in a bubble. That complacent reality before the “crisis” hits, just like in any movie, and then the world is changed forever. It happened with both World Wars. Now, my generation had the pandemic. And it’s affected all the generations living today. Generations living in the future will wonder what it was like for us. I guess that’s why I’m blogging now. To let them know.
What would I tell them? We watched a lot of Netflix. Learned to knit or other skills from YouTube. Listened to a lot of music. Wrote. Reflected. Did our jobs. And just lived through it the best we could. Just like you might have. And we read books to help us figure it all out. And some of us, even wrote those books to help us figure it all.
There was a lot of chocolate consumed in my house. M&Ms was the chocolate we were easily able to get. Supplies weren’t completely stopped, but some things were harder to get than others. Anne Frank didn’t have Walmart delivery. So, yeah. I’ve been blessed. And Girl Scout cookies went online and you could have them delivered, especially if you’re niece hooked you up. We kept our humor. We knitted slippers for our family because if we couldn’t be there, our knitting would keep them warm like a hug.
Christmas was by Zoom. Thanksgiving was by Zoom. Everything was by Zoom.
The whole time, we just wanted it to be over. The whole irony is as I’m going through it still, I think we haven’t gotten that it will never be over. The world has changed forever. We can’t go back. There’s only going forward now. Who knows what that future will look like until we get there.
I wish for you safety and peace. May you be able to get the vaccine soon, and to always still wear a mask. We’ll get through this together. We’re all going to have all our own COVID pandemic stories after all this. Keep that optimism and hope.
I think Anne Frank would be proud.
Tiffany Turner is a children’s author of the Crystal Keeper Chronicles fantasy adventure series. She is also a romance writer under the pen name, Marilyn Vix. Her books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and other online retailers. She is also the head writer and editor for her blog, the Indie Children’s Authors Connection.