Four months ago it seemed as if all the plot points in our lives had fallen into place. My husband and I found where we wanted to live and then drove across the country from L.A. to Atlanta — our new adventure. The icing on the cake was that I’d found my dream job. It was to be the start of an exciting future.
They say timing is everything and I thought our timing was perfect.
If you know me, you know that although I’m extremely risk-averse, I don’t ski, ice-skate, or fly on private planes, but, I’ve made huge life changes in the last decade, and learned to pivot out of fear of not pivoting.
So, when the opportunity became available for me to leave my current job with a livable wage, walkable from my L.A. apartment for the risk of instability and a new job in a new city where I’d never lived before, I leaped — of course. The jump felt exhilarating until the world suddenly and without warning turned into an infectious and frightening place.
With National Parks still open, we stopped at the Grand Canyon and I was awed. We drove through vast miles dotted with various Indian Nations and we talked for hours about “the colonizers” and man’s inhumanity to man.
We listened to the musical “Hamilton.” Neither of us had any idea how unbelievably beautiful, powerful, compelling, and simply perfect it is. Roger called Lin Manuel-Miranda an “American treasure.”
We experienced the memorial site where the Oklahoma City bombing took place, killing 168 people, including 19 children.
We stopped in Memphis to see a friend. Her son was sick, so we never connected — maybe that was a sign.
We saw the Lorraine Hotel and took photos of the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered — we’d end up living just blocks from where he was born and grew up.
We spent more hours talking about America’s bloody history and tried to push back the slow-building fear that this virus we were hearing about might impact our new city and maybe even my new job.
By the time we arrived we were buoyant by all the newness and continued to push the deadly talk of COVID-19 out of our minds.
I went to the CNN building on my first day and was offered “elbow bumps” by my new colleagues. I got my credentials and was handed a Lysol wipe in the training classroom. Again, the fear started to bubble up, and I was able to tamp it down.
Another training day. It was Friday, March 13 — another bad omen?
The teacher announced she’d be working from home the following week. I stopped by my supervisor’s desk in the newsroom and she told me she’d likely have me back the following week for shadowing. “Working with my training wheels on,” she’d said. “We’ll likely be setting people up with laptops to allow them to work from home. But there aren’t enough to go around,” she told me. My anxiety was rising, but I was told to come in on Monday afternoon.
My last day in the newsroom, that Monday, March 16, had maybe eight people in it, spread out, with three to 10 desks between them. I did my training for about three hours and went home.
The next day, crickets from my supervisor. My training partner told me via text that she wasn’t sure what was happening, but that all the shows I was meant to work on had been canceled. Now, was the time to panic. I was effectively put “on a hold.”
I secured some temporary work and had a good cry. My husband started to whisper comforting things in my ear. My son called and told me that he and his girlfriend were moving to Atlanta, sprinting out of L.A., and arriving in within the next two weeks. I spent all my days trying not to freak the fuck out.
Then during one of our daily walks in the woods (a Shinrin-Yoku in Japanese, meaning forest bath), we heard a little boy about 4-years-old yelling as he walked past us with his mother.
“We be die! We be die,” the boy yelled out loud and to no one in particular. His mother turned to him in a calm voice and said, “We’ll all die. We’ll all die.” Then she turned to me and Roger, knowing that we’d heard the exchange, and said, “Thankfully, this walk is almost over.” We all laughed until I thought I might cry again.
Our greeting to each other as we come and go from the apartment now for our very brief outings to walk the dog or get fresh air is “We be die.” We laugh and know that it’s true. We will all die. Just hopefully not for a long time.
Stay healthy everyone.