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and then we went back

In March 2020 when the whole world shut down, we started off pretty well. Some stocked their basements with toilet paper, others made many, many loaves of sourdough bread, some cleaned their closets, while others learned to knit. The permanence of life became not so permanent, and fear and anxiety started to set in for some. Remember the innocence of that "two week shut-down?" Like we really thought things were going to just go back to normal in 2 weeks?? I remember thinking that it was a great reset, giving time for both the environment and our families to breathe. Time slowed down and almost stood still. The streets were deafeningly quiet and "family time" took on a whole new meaning. But then... the 2 weeks turned into 2 months and REAL real. People suffered severe loss... family members, jobs, housing, food, and in some cases dignity. This temporary life became uncomfortably permanent.

I was lucky that my family was safe and we had food and an income. My hard during the pandemic was not hard. But it hurt. I remember dreading the day that we would find out from the schools that they weren't opening for the rest of the year. That the homeschool days would continue when really I had no interest in homeschooling.

The day that I felt broke my heart in two was when I found out my daughter wasn't going back to preschool. That the last 3 months of our little rituals when her brothers were off to school got ripped out from under us. No more guessing games on the way to school, or looking for fairies in the moss, no more parent helping or lunch dates on the playground. I remember making the best of it by coloring, painting, playing outside and creating whatever we could to make the never ending days go by. But inside, I was spiraling with sadness and carried an emptiness with me that I can still feel writing this. I kept lying to myself, pretending that we'd get to go back to a place that was part of my heart, at least to say goodbye.

From March 2020 to October 24th, 2021 we weren't even allowed on the grounds of Alina's school due to restrictions. But last week we got to go back. My now first grader was going back to her preschool. We went back for an outdoor reunion for the Class of 2019-2020 and the children played like they had never left. They got to ring the birthday bell even it wasn't their birthday, they got to play on the swings and in the mud kitchen and explore all of the nooks and crannies that they had forgotten about.

On Saturday morning, Alina asked me if I thought she'd remember the other kids and the playground. I wasn't really sure how to answer her, I had no idea what she would remember after all of this time had passed. Sure enough, as we walked in the gate of this magical playground, memories came flooding back before we even entered. The big rock with moss where all of those little fairies lived was still there. The yellow bucket in the tree, the hidden fairy swing, the jiggly bus, the crystals buried in cement... they all came back. I personally felt like I could've puked... my little just turned 5 year old was now an almost 7 year old. But I didn't, I sat and I took it all in. For a small portion of that day, we somehow went back into time. I sat on the same stump I used to sit on when she'd convince me to stay another minute, I talked to the same teachers that love her now like they did then. And I got to look into the same window of an empty classroom that I used to watch her wave goodbye from.

What if you had just 2 hours to go back into time and relive a part of your life before the pandemic? What would see in a whole new light after this 21 months of life as we now know it? During my time leap, I literally appreciated each minute. I tried not to let my thoughts overwhelm me with the sense of longing I had, but rather took the time to stretch out the seconds and be present. Imagine if we could appreciate even a portion of each day at this level... we might just be able to slow down time.

This is where the fairies live.

"And the seasons, they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down We're captive on the carousel of time We can't return, we can only look Behind, from where we came And go round and round and round, in the circle game"

- Joni Mitchell

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