Two months into the summer, a familiar assortment of hopes and worries hovers omnipresent at the forefront of our minds. This continuity is perversely reassuring. So disruptive was the pandemic and so great our longing for a return to normalcy that our minds have latched on to the constancy they offer, even if that constancy translates to heightened stress levels that can never quite be resolved. It is a testament to the mind’s adaptability that not even four months into our evacuation and with the world around us still very much in a state of great upheaval, we have reached a sense of routine.
Posts tagged ‘Philippines’
Mid-morning, we’re both plugging away on our laptops, a stillness that is equal parts soothing and unnerving permeating the house. The living room floor is strewn with K’nex, snap beads, and Legos, but our two little troublemakers are nowhere to be seen. Is it possible that the kids are playing nicely together in another room or is it more likely that the calm and quiet belie the fact that they are up to no good? And does it matter if we can sneak in some uninterrupted work during our hours of peak productivity as a result?
Arizona, which we have come to love over the last few months of living here, is a real hot mess right now, and we’re not talking about the prolonged stretch of hundred-degree days, which have left us feeling dazed with heat. By nearly all available metrics, Arizona has become one of the country’s leading coronavirus hotspots and, given the state’s current trajectory, things are liable to get significantly worse before they get any better.
One evening toward the end of our first month in Sedona, we found ourselves debating the advisability of putting up bird feeders. By that point we had acclimated after our sudden departure from the Philippines but had little in the way of guidance regarding the likely length of our evacuation. The Department’s initial global authorized departure only extended through mid-May, and there was considerable confusion about what lay ahead.
It is commonly said that all good things come to an end, as indeed all things must. Some come to an end a bit more painfully than others. After spending nearly four weeks with us, S’s mom began her long return journey to Maine yesterday, but it wasn’t her departure in and of itself that left our daughter inconsolable. Rather, Junebug spent a good part of the day in tears because S’s mom took our beloved dog with her.
Sweet and sensitive, but also fierce and strongly opinionated, at times overly melodramatic despite being emotionally mature for her age, and always bubbly and precocious, Junebug, whose third birthday passed this week, is at a developmental crossroads. She has held on to her baby tendencies far longer than Munchkin had, but she also routinely surprises us with the depth of her emotional understanding and reasoning, which is far beyond what Munchkin could muster at this age.
Every time we set foot on a trail amid Sedona’s towering red rock mountains, or spend a lazy afternoon at Oak Creek with the kids, or watch our dog roll around contentedly in a patch of sun-dappled grass in the Coconino National Forest, we feel a now familiar mix of conflicting emotions: gratefulness for the respite from cramped city living and the restrictive pandemic lockdown we escaped in Manila, mixed with a foretaste of nostalgia ahead of our eventual return to the Philippines.
It’s the middle of June, temperatures routinely flirt with 100 degrees, and locals and visitors alike can be seen seeking refuge at Oak Creek swimming holes and Sedona’s crowded watering holes. A small handful of people wear masks, but by and large life here appears to have snapped back almost fully to the pre-pandemic normal. The contrast to the ghost town we had encountered when we arrived in Sedona a couple of months ago could not be starker. An uninformed observer might be forgiven for surmising that this corner of the country has been untouched by the pandemic. Unfortunately, quite the contrary is true.
This weekend marks the midway point of S’s first Foreign Service tour. A year has now elapsed since her arrival in the Philippines, though given all that has happened in the intervening months, last June seems a decade ago. Needless to say, marking the occasion in Arizona is not something we could have anticipated. So much of this year has been defined by rupture.
“Papa, what are you doing? Is this your ‘puter? Why you always working?” Junebug asks. Apparently unsatisfied with the response, she returns a few minutes later and demands, “Put your foot in!” When she insists and gets Munchkin to join in, there is little recourse but to take a ten-minute break to indulge in one of her favorite games, a holdover from our Manila quarantine days.