Home is Where Health Is

Here’s the thing: everything I need is right here.

And here’s a sliver of what I see when I look back at pre-pandemic days and then today, as if I could fold time so that those two periods (pre-pandemic and this morning) could line up next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip.

In the days before, I spent a lot of time (most of my time even) looking out (both literally and figuratively) beyond the fence around my home. Even on those days when the kids and I didn’t leave the house, the immensity of all of the things out there that we could and should be doing crowded in on us, me. In other words: I felt this world inside this fence wasn’t enough.

This morning, I ran inside that fence. And somehow I found that it was enough. I didn’t turn on an audiobook or music in my headphones. I forgot about the woman from the couch to 10K program so that I startled when her voice came on reminding me that I was “almost there” or to slow down to a walk. The morning was slightly overcast so I was able to run on the otherwise blazing hot concrete, giving the grassy spots a break from the pounding of my soles. Can you imagine a time and place when these minute details are what occupy me? Would my previous self have thought, “Your concerns of the morning are the sun and the grass? BORR-RRING!” My present self is pleased with and grateful for the mundane.

My current home. It’s lovely but much too small for three kids, two dogs and two parents, one of whom is working from home for now and the indefinite future. If anyone has an spare second floor, we’d happily take it off your hands. (I drew this on Procreate.)

Yesterday, I wrote a little about my house in Karenni Refugee Camp #3 in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. It, too, eventually had a fence around it, a fence I asked some of my students to build because my house was on multiple well-trod paths and children kept coming around and peering into the small gaps and holes in the woven bamboo walls. Part of me felt a bit reluctant to ask for a fence, which would potentially isolate me from the rest of the community in a way that might suggest that I thought I was better than them. And it would mean that people would have to walk around rather than but through by my house in order to get to the high school. Privacy was available at a premium which I was, it turns out, willing to pay.

Perhaps these previous experiences are, in part, why staying home in the pandemic has not felt like a struggle. I suspect that this fall and winter, I might feel a bit like we are missing out, with our children not vaccinated (under 12 are not eligible yet) but museums and movie theaters open. Then again, perhaps I will feel grateful to have an excuse to not have to venture out; perhaps I will know then too that what we have here inside this fence is, indeed, enough.

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