And then I remembered that this is reality—the world, as we know it, has essentially come to a standstill.
The Best Laid Plans…
If all had gone according to plan, we would have been on the road last week. We would have waved goodbye to the pretty little town of Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle where we’ve been since mid-January, clearing out my parents’ home and preparing it for sale.
We would have been on our way to see my folks in Jacksonville, and then heading to Savannah for a music festival to kick off our spring and summer travels. But in the past several weeks, everything has come to a screeching halt. My folks’ assisted living facility was locked down, the Savannah Music Festival was canceled, and every day brings more emails from state and national parks informing us of closures.
All of those hard-won reservations, all of that meticulous planning—gone. Pfffft. Are we disappointed? Yes. We worked our butts off on my folks’ house for two months, with the goal of taking off in March for a blissful summer of new adventures. Instead, like everyone else, we find ourselves tossed into a sea of uncertainty.
Obviously, we aren’t going anywhere. We’re hunkered down here in Apalachicola for the foreseeable future, which is not foreseeable at all.
One thing we know: We are grateful to be in a beautiful, remote place. The Forgotten Coast seems like a good place to be right now. And we feel especially fortunate to have my folks’ home to stay in while we ride this out. It’s a good thing we didn’t put it on the market.
Still, my emotions ricochet between anxiety, uncertainty, and grief. I can’t help but wonder, “How long will this last? When will it be safe to be with other people? How will we collectively emerge from this? What does this mean for our world?”
There are no answers.
The truth is that life is always a big unknown. We can pretend all we want that we have life under control, but the reality is that we never do. We’ve had plenty of experience with having the rug pulled out from under us (Eric’s unexpected heart surgery several years ago was a big one). Few of us make it through life without some measure of suffering.
But there hasn’t been anything quite like this, with the entire world suddenly thrown into a vortex of uncertainty.
We’ve prepared ourselves as best we can. We have a month’s supply of good food, a freezer full of fresh Gulf seafood, and a home in a beautiful location where we can stay for the duration.
Searching for the silver lining in this time of crisis, perhaps we can enjoy being here now that our job with my folks’ house is complete. But because we have been rigorously adhering to social distancing guidelines for a couple of weeks, many of the fun things we would ordinarily do are off the table. (Not to mention that Florida is entering into a 30-day mandated stay-at-home order as of today. FINALLY.)
Fortunately, Franklin County has been proactive and has been taking the pandemic seriously, long before the governor decided to get real about this. We are grateful for the people on the front lines in our small town…the workers at the Piggly Wiggly who keep the shelves stocked, the UPS driver who delivers packages to us several times a week, the sheriff who ran a Georgia politician out of town when he showed up at his vacation home here after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Emerging From Our Epic Archeological Dig
It has been a very long two-and-a-half months, starting with our huge project on my parents’ home. In mid-January, we parked our trailer on my folks’ property and set to work rooting out the home they built on the bay almost forty years ago.
On the surface, the house always looked tidy. But every closet, cabinet, and drawer was stuffed with an astonishing array of possessions. As was the garage, studio, and workshop. I don’t think my parents ever got rid of anything. And they both had a LOT of interests.
We spent two solid months clearing out, cleaning, and donating stuff. My sister’s idea was 1) have a huge dumpster delivered and throw everything away, or 2) set the house on fire. Being the responsible citizens that we are, our goal was to find new homes for everything, recycle what could be reused, and haul as little to the landfill as possible.
It was so overwhelming that I just started pulling things out of closets and drawers without any kind of good plan. I made things MUCH worse before I made them better.
I tell you, there were times that I wished we had just taken my sister’s advice.
It has been a daunting project. There is no way I could have done this without Eric. He dug in, taking care of whatever was in front of him. My dad’s workshop, the boat, the truck, the car, the acre of property that was sorely neglected…he took it all on.
We were lucky to find wonderful people to help with cleaning, major repairs, and yard work. There’s no way we could have done everything on our own. We found new homes for everything…books went to the library, clothing to local churches, household goods to a thrift store that benefits the community, furniture to local folks in need. There was very little that ended up at the landfill. It made me feel good to know that my parents’ belongings have gone to help people in the community that they love.
Some of our finds were hilarious…the Elvis collection, for example. My folks threw an occasional “Elvis Tribute Party” as a joke.
The Good & The Not-So-Good Of Strolling Down Memory Lane
My realm was mostly the inside of the house, and the epic archeological dig of rooting through decades of my parents’ lives, which, of course, included memorabilia of my life. The journey brought up wonderful memories, and it also brought up some not so great ones. (That high school angst? Didn’t really need to revisit that.)
What does make me happy is seeing so much evidence of the pure delight that my parents shared in their 71 years of life together. The last couple of years haven’t been easy, but they had a good long run.
I had completely forgotten about this high school formal. The photographer gathered together our class officers—which was all girls. Pretty radical for the time! My ex-boyfriend is on the far right, my boyfriend at the time refused to go, and I coerced my cousin into going with me. Life felt so complicated.
And Now, A Public Service Announcement
Stay well, dear friends.