That’s what my boss, Jacquie, asked me the other day. So, for real, how are you?
And I unleashed a barrage.
I said: I’m overwhelmed! We have five kids, and they each have something they need from me. My oldest is living on her own for the very first time, and in her first month, she and her boyfriend are shut in. She’s closed in from school. She’s worrying about him being laid off. She’s in good spirits, but she’s worried. I know. And we talk nearly every day. She’s a responsible kid. But I’m so sad for her. I’m so sad for all our kids.
My son is almost 17. He moved to Kingston February 1st. In the short term he’s lived with us, he’s had nearly three weeks off school based on the strike alone. And now he’s living in the country with us, only virtually able to see his Dad whom he lived with for the majority of his life. He’s struggling. His friends are still being allowed out. And they’re congregating, and posting their photos on Snapchat. His spirit is waning. We’ve given him permission to ride the 4 wheeler, and hang out in the woods behind our house. He’s basically got carte blanche. But it’s tough. I’m so sad.
My youngest just got home from Mexico. She and her father, her stepmother, and step siblings went for their March trip. They left before the pandemic was settling in, and now they’re quarantined for 14 days. She’s on Day 2, and as she told me, she’s watched “so many movies it’s unbelievable”. Her Dad is trying to keep the kids happy and active. But it’s so hard. And I won’t see her until April. This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing her since she was born. Again, I’m sad.
Our youngest two – Jan’s daughters – have been with us since Friday before March Break. We’ve been primarily responsible of helping them navigate this uncertainty. Schools cancelled. People getting sick. Loved ones getting sick. Helping them understand that being sick doesn’t necessarily equate to having the virus, but it does mean isolation until 24 hours symptom-free. How do you compute that when you’re 10? When you’re 8? When you’re planning your birthday party, but it looks like it’ll have to be cancelled? When you have to stay home when before you didn’t have to. Or couldn’t have a play date. How do you understand?
So we did a video of good hand washing procedures. And I gave them the analogy of a gymnasium – where if people all stood still, it would take time for the germs to get to everyone. And we’ve gone on walks. And seen Grandma. And watched movies, played games, started series of films. Tonight, we’re having a sleep-in movie, where we’ll blow up an air mattress and watch TV from an air mattress.
I have the girls every morning till just about lunch, when Jan’s Mom takes over. And then I head to work. He and I meet at home later. We both work in industries where we are still providing services to the public.
And so, I said to my boss: How am I really feeling? Overwhelmed. Every day, I hear the information and I parlay where appropriate. My show in Kingston is different from my show in Tillsonburg, because my audiences are receiving information at different times.
I have been in radio just about 6 years. And in those years, I was on the air for when Robin Williams passed. For the terrorist attacks in Europe. When Trump was elected. The Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. When Gord Downie died.
But I’ve had to lean on my colleagues, whom many have felt out of their league and they have been professionals in their fields for many, many more years than I. But they have guided and mentored me in ways they’ll never fully understand. I’m a better broadcaster because I’m taking their lead.
And what of Jan and I?
We’re not quite six months into our relationship. We’re thankful we got out for our fifth month, because clearly we’ll be home for next monthiversary.
He and I are relying on our deeply seeded friendship to bring us through these days and weeks of chaos. When we fight, because we’re equally stressed between staying a float and staying sane, we stop. And we make up. And we snuggle up. And we apologize. And we remember that it’s just the pandemic stress talking. It’s just the struggle struggling to figure out equal footing.
We’re okay. At the root of our relationship, we are best friends. And when times were tough before we became a romantic couple, we turned to each other. For smiles. For jokes. For a little sliver of light in the darkest nights.
And that’s what we’re doing now. Remembering that this partner was the partner who counted on then, and now, and in all the crazy tomorrows.
So, for real, how are you?
I had Kraft Dinner for breakfast. And I’ve been drinking rum out of grape crush cans. I drew a charcoal portrait of Stevie Nicks. And started back on my novel. We’ve purged the pantry. And tomorrow is the boxes in the basement.
And my kids are healthy. And my partner is healthy. And we’re both still able to work, safely.
For real, we’re okay.
Stay safe, everyone. And wash your hands.
— c ☆