After dissecting the decision to visit my mom in last week’s post, the decision was made.
A weight flew off my shoulders, and while bits and pieces of it landed back on as we implemented the logistics of what a visit during a pandemic entails, there is a freeing release when a decision is made and my brain is freed up for other things.
Now, of course, I managed to make things complicated along the way, like devising more options that what were needed to go pick up the rental car (J, again, to the rescue: “We’ll figure it out”). The months of being careful and isolated paid off as we felt secure in our ability to gauge risk and the steps we needed to take to stay safe.
So, Tuesday morning (yesterday), I was behind the wheel of our rented Kia Soul, driving through the darkened streets of San Francisco at 6:15am. We watched the sky lighten only to reveal smoky skies as we cruised down I-5 through the Central Valley, passing trucks hauling tons of tomatoes, being picked by the crews of field workers huddled around pick-up trucks and tractors.
Podcast after podcast, work call after work call, semi truck after semi truck, quick runs into rest areas that thankfully had crews of cleaning staff in bright yellow vests, eating a lunch leftover orzo salad from a yogurt container, the hours (all 13 of them) ticked by. The fields of the Central Valley morphed into the coastal range north of LA, morphed into wind turbine and palm farms around Palm Springs, morphed into cactus and mesquite as we crossed into Arizona.
And then, as the sun was setting, we pulled into the driveway.
Last night was a bit of a dance, giving ourselves time to shed the layers of the road and settle into what felt necessary and comfortable. Sitting with glasses of wine outside, jumping out of the way in the kitchen to allow space, a goodnight wave instead of a hug.
This morning, as I was urging my fingers to life at the keyboard, perched on a stool at the edge of the kitchen counter with coffee, my mom emerged from her bedroom with a child’s expression of knowing she was going to do something she maybe shouldn’t do and was looking at me testing if I was going to let her get away with it.
I knew exactly what she was going to do. I laughed away any vestiges of anxiety, and let her wrap her arms around me. I still found myself turning my face to the sky, wondering if we’ll always feel the need to take even one step of precaution after living with so much to consider for so long.
I gave my mom the first hug she’s had since March.