A Day In The Life Of An Optimistic Dystopian

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Life has gotten weird lately, right? Every day there is so much news, so many reports, so much conflicting information. It’s intense and overwhelming. And it varies on where you are in the globe or even where you are here in the United States. My family is split right now. We have people everywhere…South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas, California, Kansas, and South Dakota. That’s not even counting our extended friends/families in Italy, Germany, Japan, and Spain. The different directives and circumstances are staggering from state to state. The federal government can’t seem to agree on one stance or another.

The kids and I are here in the Pacific Northwest. From our standpoint, it seems like the beginning of a dystopic novel.

And here’s the thing. I have friends that are convinced this is the end of the world. I have other friends that think it’s a conspiracy to create a demand for a vaccine. I have still other friends that think it is a hoax or at least severely overblown. I respect all of you. I understand that your perspectives are largely driven by your local circumstances.

I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter.

For those of us in affected communities, the food shortages due to panic buying are very real. The school cancellations are very real. The lack of personal hygiene supplies are very real. We have already seen rationing of certain items, and I’m sure the list will continue to grow. We have seen bans on groups of more than 10 people in one building at a time. Restaurants only have food available for carryout. The library has closed. Today the campground that we are staying at shut its doors on all common areas…including bathrooms and the laundromat.

That means for the next two weeks we have no access to shower facilities or laundry without venturing into town. And yet, many of us are still working. Today I had to take one of my children to the hospital. It was for a completely unrelated illness, but it was scary to think that we might just be trading one illness for another as medical supplies are rationed and running short.

The laundromat across from the hospital was still open. It has a limit of ten customers at a time, and a sign encouraging patrons to set timers and wait in their cars. We set up shop inside and only saw two other people.

In town we stumbled across a hippie herb market, and we were able to find hidden treasure. Slippery Elm Bark and Marshmallow Root to make medicine for my youngest child that has always been super susceptible to upper respiratory complications.

A boating supply shop had two packets of RV/marine toilet paper still on hand.

Last night I made a late night grocery run on the way home from work. It was the first time I have ever been afraid of the dark. Not the dark. The hunger in the eyes of the people standing in the dark parking lot and watching me load my long sought after dry goods and milk. There was a police officer watching from the doorway of the store and for the first time I questioned whether or not he would come to my aid. It made me afraid, yes, but also sad that in that moment I had so little faith in my fellow man. I understood how things could quickly get out of hand.

Each day we learn of new restrictions or at least the possibility of new restrictions. We watch states like New York using “martial law tactics” and cities like San Francisco “sheltering in place”. It all sounds the same, and we wonder if our cities and states might soon take similar actions.

So many of us cross the border between Washington and Oregon each day to live and work. We depend on that crossing for access to things like doctors, grocery stores, and hardware supplies. We watch the news and wonder…will we be able to cross back in time?

As we travel back and forth we’ve started paying attention to houses with gardens, green houses, and beehives. Will these people be willing to barter if things get really bad? We’ve started paying attention to the open spaces in the forest. Will we be able to grow food and keep it hidden? Does it look like berries might thrive along this path in the spring? Are those mushrooms or herbs growing wild? We’re thankful for the happy accident that had us acquiring books on local edible and medicinal plants before all of this happened.

Does that sound crazy? It didn’t a week ago. Today it just seems prudent.

We also have a list of supplies to start keeping an eye on. Supplies to build an outside shower, a makeshift washing machine, fishing poles, crab cages. In case this becomes a long term reality. We’re blessed to be on the coast with an abundance of resources at our fingertips if we can figure out how to harvest them.

I guess the point of this post is twofold.

One, have compassion for those around you. Your circumstances might not match their own. But also, the memes are hilarious. Please, keep them coming. The reports from different areas keep us connected. Please, keep sharing them. The advice from veteran homeschool families can seem condescending, but I guarantee it comes from a loving, helpful heart. Working moms, homeschool moms, quarantined moms…we’re all MOMS and we can get through this together. Please, keep sharing. No matter what else, our kids still need to be educated.

Funny side note actually. My kids all unanimously agree that if Momma gets arrested for anything in this new reality, it will be breaking into a deserted museum or university and then calmly explaining to the cops that plague or no plague, her kids are still gonna learn.

The second point is hope. Yes, things are scary. Yes, things can seem bleak. But this is still a time to shine and grow. Learn new skills from these challenges. Find better ways of doing things than the mass consumption that so many of us took for granted. Reach out to a neighbor (from a safe distance) and offer assistance or a trade. Sing together like they are from their windows in Italy. Our world is not ending. Despite reports to the contrary, I believe we are actually finding our humanity again.

I plan on continuing to blog throughout this adventure. I have no idea what direction it will take. I hadn’t planned on starting a new series. But I feel like we all have things to share and contribute during this time. Start your own story or just comment on these posts as we go along. Being six feet apart and only gathering in small groups doesn’t mean we still can’t have community and help each other.

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