I like to go through my phone and clean out photos. You know how you take 10 pictures to get the good one where both kids are looking at the camera? I like the delete the ones I won’t ever need. I keep some of the outtakes, but generally I like to try to save space by cleaning things up. I also have two kids who like to take my phone and take a bunch of photos of their feet. I delete those also.

It occurred to me I haven’t done a purge in a while, so I went back to see how long it had been. Answer: Feb 7 is the last time it looks like I’ve cleaned up my photos folder. That means I had to go through all the photos from our Tahoe trip in February, when things were basically totally normal, as far as we knew.

As we go forward in time, you start to see things creep in. Like this photo from the bathroom at work, when we were totally still doing The Rocky Horror Show in April/May, but everyone should wash their hands to stay healthy. This is from early March. Things were getting a little scary, but not super real yet.


That first weekend of March, B had a birthday party on Saturday, and H had a playdate at a park on Sunday. The birthday party was the first drop-off party B has ever gone to. It’s a friend of his from school, we’ve met his parents, they live nearby us, and it seemed pretty low-risk. I dropped him off, came home for like, an hour, and then went back for the end of the party. It was Mario themed and all the kids were dressed up, and it was super cute. B and I took a picture with two of the other moms and their kids, who we’ve cultivated relationships with, and I was so excited that we were moving into this part of life, where B is making friends at school and we have this local network of people.

On Sunday, this was H’s first one-on-one playdate with a friend of hers from school. We met up at a park, the girls played together, they were adorable. The other mom and I talked about how stores were being mobbed for toilet paper, and how the lines to get into the Costco parking lot were crazy. We all went to Starbucks and the girls drank hot chocolate and sat in one big armchair together and touched everything. We bought drinks for our husbands, all hugged goodbye, and promised to do it again soon. Later that day I went to the grocery store, and afterward I texted the mom and joked that I had bought toilet paper, even though we didn’t really need it at the time, and she wrote back and said she’d done the same thing.


The next week was our last week at work and school before shelter in place landed. One morning that week I took a picture of myself on an empty BART train during rush hour. So weird. I’ve always been really diligent about not touching anything anyway, so I just doubled down on that, but it was eerie seeing how empty everything was. The train, the streets in San Francisco, the stores. There were still some people out – but not many. People were starting to wear masks. It was reminiscent of the wildfires in 2018.


^^Look at me, wearing makeup and jewelry and real clothes! Amazing!

That week, I was thinking things were going to shut down soon. We opened a show on Wednesday, and that day the mayor made a decree that gatherings of 1000 or more were banned. We thought we’d get through the weekend with the show and then decide what would happen. But it was the next day that she said gatherings of 250 or more were banned, and that opening performance ended up also being the closing performance.

My boss talked about how we might be working remotely for a week or two. I started packing up stuff from my desk. (Although if I knew then what I know now, I would have brought more stuff home. Just because.)

One of those last days, on a lunch break, I went to Macy’s and bought some makeup remover—hilarious because I haven’t opened it yet, since I haven’t been wearing makeup. I bought a lip color on a whim, which has been in my purse, also unopened. I stopped and got iced coffee on the way back to the office. I took a picture to send my friend Michelle, with a very “treat yourself!” kind of message.


(Please continue to wash your hands.)

On Friday of that week, we heard from both kids’ schools that they were going to close for a bit. My boss asked us to tell her if we were planning on working from home the following week, and I was like, “Yup.” I think there was still the idea it would just be a couple weeks until we figured things out. I said to people, “Those kids are not going back to school this year.” People scoffed at me. I went home.

That first weekend was just a weekend, but it was also the start of social distancing for us. We went on walks, took pictures of the kids in puddles, and captioned them #socialdistancing. It all felt weird, and still panicky. In those couple weeks when things ramped up so quickly here, I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on groceries, not knowing what was going to happen with stores. I took out a bunch of cash from the ATM and hid it in an envelope. I made an amazon fresh order that couldn’t be delivered for two weeks, and I put random weird things in my cart, because a lot of stuff was already sold out, and also I just wasn’t sure what I would want in two weeks’ time—cans of beans? or bags of chips? I bought both.

It’s been almost 11 weeks, and I think I kind of have a handle on what this new world looks like, temporarily? This is the last week of distance learning for B, although I think we’ll probably keep him doing some light schoolwork stuff through the summer, since what else are we going to do? H is not going back to her preschool…right? So she just…doesn’t get closure on that? I’m not sure what that means for the future.

We had just started going to the movies as a family. We saw Cats and Frozen II in the theater in the few months before shelter in place started, and it was great. Both kids liked it. It was pricey but it was fun. And now I don’t know when that will happen again. In the meantime we’re watching movies at home. It’s not the same.

Toilet paper is coming back into the stores. Nature is healing.

H is learning to read. B is learning multiplication. They both look and seem older to me, although I don’t know whether that’s just parenting, or if it’s related to this situation. They’re getting used to workdays being workdays for us, and that we have phone and zoom meetings, and that they’re on their own sometimes.

My alcohol (and Oreo) consumption has gone up. I’ve been cooking as therapy, and trying to make new and interesting things, using new and interesting ingredients. We’ve nailed how to hard boil the perfect egg, how to make perfect rice, and I’ve learned how to use ginger and lemongrass. Our meat consumption has gone down—not to zero, but less than before. Our bean and rice consumption has gone up.

I did eight weeks of online playwriting classes. I’m proud to have gotten through it, and feel good about the work I did, and I hope I can carry that forward.

We got into the track at the local high school this weekend, and B ran a full lap without stopping. I think he was craving it. Drew and I are thinking we should all go over there more often and run laps. You can tell when the kids haven’t been outside for a while. The energy around them is palpable.

I continue to be grateful that we’re both still employed full-time, and we have tons of entertainment options in home. I’m grateful that we live in a place where we can go on walks in nature. I’m grateful that we’re all healthy. I’m grateful that we’ve been able to stock up on the medication we need, so we don’t run out. I’m grateful that we have options for groceries, and plenty of food saved up. I’m grateful (in a weird way) that everyone is kind of settling into this new routine, and we seem to be getting through it together.

I’m grateful for all that, but I’m still mourning the things we’ve lost, and that we’ll continue to lose over the next year or more.  It goes back and forth every day as to which side is louder.

It feels like it’s been much longer and much shorter than eleven weeks. I wonder how long this will go on, and how much it will change before it’s finally over. I will continue to remind myself to count my blessings and stay positive. I will draw on the support system I have and try to be a good support system for other people. (I will break out of this overly dramatic voice I’ve drifted into here…) I will model good behavior and attitude for my children. I will give myself grace. I will bake cookies this afternoon. I will text my friends and check in. I will keep making myself write. I will drink some water. I will take us out for a walk this afternoon. I will stay home and stay safe.

I will clean up the rest of the photos on my phone! That should distract me for awhile.


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2 responses to “Sheltering

  1. Suzanne Ruffcorn

    I so love the way you write. What you write. Even if I didn’t already love you, I’d think you were amazing.

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