Sack of potatoes

Like everyone else, I’m getting tired of wearing leisure wear. Heck, I had planned to exclusively wear comfy clothes for a week to help my daughter with the new baby, then return to my life, teaching, grand parenting, and thinking of my next chapter–retirement. Then life took a very strange turn. And today something that in normal times I would have celebrated, has profoundly rocked me: No more school. Until Fall.

No. More. School.

To be clear, I’m still teaching, just not in Room 18. Us teachers still have a presence. We are remoting. But it’s just not the same. Somehow, we have to find a way to connect, and we will. Still, we worry, can’t sleep, and fret about what this loss of routine and educational structure might do to the kids whose only structure is going to school.

Damn this stupid virus. Damn it to hell and may it never return.

I look at the last photo I took of my classroom; I can’t help but mourn all the the great lessons yet to introduce: Democracy In Action, where students find a cause they care about and step up and take action. The Inventor’s Project in which they research America 50 years from now and consider political, social, education and environmental projections and create an invention to address a future challenge. Promotion ceremonies, the dance and Disneyland. Wrapping things up. Saying goodbye. Reminding them on the the last day that once you are Ms. Barker’s student you ar always my student. Tears. Then summer!!! A well-earned summer.

It helps, I guess, that we’re all going through the same thing. There’s some sort of comfort knowing that all of us teachers across America are grieving. We care so damn much. But we are resilient and will make the best of it. That’s what teachers always do.

Which brings me to some happy news: The sack of potatoes. We have been out of food, scraping the bottom of the produce bin, cleaning out the dry beans, and left with a half a cartoon of milk. No deliveries in NYC. Sorry, all time slots are filled Despite our 2 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and throughout the day frantic attempts to set up grocery delivery since both my granddaughter and myself are medically vulnerable to the virus—NOTHING!

Cue in “Ride of the Valkyries”.

So my warrior daughter puts on her warfare-out-in-public gear and trudges to the actual grocery store–the one a new mom isn’t supposed to go to–and returns to the apartment with six bags or $214 worth of groceries. She scored the motherload! And as a bonus, she somehow muscled two big containers of paper towels and toilet paper. It felt like Christmas in April.

As soon as she got home, she decontaminated herself as did I after putting away the groceries. Now we’re set for a couple of weeks. I already made a lovely pot of vegetable soup and we had an arugula salad for dinner. Unlike my prior life where, I admit, some of my produce rotted in the fridge, now I treasure every item of food as if it’s gold. Nothing goes to waste. I promise you, that sack of potatoes cooling in the fridge, won’t have chance to go to seed. And if it does, mark my word, we’re planting it in our very own Victory Garden on the balcony.

You know what they say about breaking a bad habit, that it takes at least a month to form a new pattern? If this virus is around for a couple of months–or longer–as the experts predict, maybe all these lessons, these revelations, will change long-term behavior. I mean, if the CoronaVirus19 disappeared in just two weeks, if the symptoms weren’t that bad, we wouldn’t change the things that needed changing. It’s gotta hurt, right, for us to pay attention, for it to be real?

It’s like having the flu. First, you feel out-of -sorts. Next, you go to bed. Then you spend the entire night thinking you’re going to die. Then you ask for help and the only thing someone can do for you is get you a glass of water. Eventually, you get on the other side of the demon gremlin, and you rest. And think. And rest some more. And think some more. And go back to your old ways.

This virus, as we all know, is different, smacking our silly faces and shouting, “Sit your damn butt down and listen. You aren’t such a hot shot. Get your shit together.”

If after all this, Americans go back to their old ways, we’re screwed.

I pray we never recover and, at long last, wake up and become better versions of ourselves.

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