It’s been nine months now, and that has brought great pain for many. But I choose to find the positive through 2020 introspection.
The new Coronavirus normal has set in. In reality, it doesn't even seem like quarantine anymore. I go to the store. Once in a blue moon, I go to the drive-through of my favorite vegan place. I see my daughter for holidays and birthdays — but don’t hug her. Bottom line: I think I've adapted, and even relished much about the new normal, except for one thing. Travel.
This is the longest I’ve been in once place. I’ve been traveling since I can remember. As a kid we took long road trips every other year, from Chicago to Tucson to visit our grandparents. When not headed southwest in a cramped car we took shorter drive vacations throughout the midwest. When I was 16, I braved my first solo trip beyond our borders. As a result, my life never went back to normal.
I consider myself a world traveler comfortable pretty much anywhere, alone. The anthropologist and journalist in me prefers to avoid looking and acting like a tourist, in favor of staying and hanging out off the beaten path.
Interestingly enough, while cabin fever hit some -- like a block -- during these nine months of Coronavirus, I've enjoyed being the home body I never was.
If you’d asked me in early March, I would have said I couldn’t imagine not even driving 25 minutes to the town where I was working, shopping, and hanging out three to four days a week. In these last nine months, I have ventured out to the next towns —in both directions — but rarely. My biggest getaways are 45-minute drives in to Austin to peruse the bookstores, food co-ops, and visit my daughter. Although I lived in San Antonio for 21 years, I have only driven once to the Alamo City since March. That was for a socially distanced new moon ceremony hosted and coordinated by one of my dear friends and gurus.
My sister-in-law in South America used to say I had patitas calientes. Meaning my feet were always moving (or longing to get moving). Even a few days after my C-section I walked to the bakery nearby to the shock of my mom. 2020 introspection tells me that sometimes it's better to bake your own bread, literally and figuratively.
For the first few months of self-isolation, rather than feeling trapped in quarantine, I enjoyed each day. I walked around my neighborhood, daily, to take in beautiful views of hills and wildflowers.
Since March, I've reconnected on a regular basis with my grade school besties in Seattle, Chicago, and Jerusalem via Zoom. I coordinated several large group family video chats, and have called my closest friends far more frequently than prior to Covid. 2020 introspection tells me that the most valuable things in life are your loved ones.
With a penchant for reading since I was just two years old, I've reverted to the real book worm that I am. Back when I worked in the corporate world, leisure reading was relegated to my vacation time. 2020 gave me the time to dig into all those books I had lined up on my shelves just waiting to be opened. Plus, the only items in my shopping bags coming back from Austin were books. I've been averaging two books per week now, and even signed up for Audible, something I never would have done prior to quarantine. 2020 introspection reminds me that reading and learning are essential to my true nature.
Fortunately, I live in a retreat-like setting. I call my place The Namaste Getaway, as it really is a blissful getaway less than an hour from two major cities. So, everyday for me is a mini-getaway. The outdoors are calling me. Many of my Facebook Live and IGTV sessions I host from open-air spaces just outside my house.
I routinely practice yoga on my back porch, and love to eat my meals outside. My favorite book reading spot is my front porch, and I enjoy long walks down my deserted road every day. 2020 introspection reminds me that there is beauty all around each one of us, if we open our eyes and our hearts.
Despite the fact that I live in a mini-retreat spot, I found a way to up the ante. Last week, I spent nine days and nights in my newly-opened BarnOm Airbnb. The 720-square-foot barndominium is just a stone's throw from my house. However, every change can be a welcome one. I felt as if I was in a cabin in the backwoods. The nights were far cooler than normal, so I bundled up inside with hot teas, lap blankets, and of course my bundle of books. 2020 introspection teaches that it's ok to take it slow and enjoy the ride.
Although I still daydream about international travel, I don’t want to return to the old normal.
Nine months is the time it takes a baby to fully develop in the womb. I think some of the best things about the Covid era are firmly planted in my lifestyle, and I will do everything I can to keep those silver linings from fading away or being discarded.
2020 introspection wisdom says that getting on a plane is easy, but to travel within is harder -- but more important.