My mother and I stood in line at the Aqueduct Raceway in Queens, New York, holding our vaccine registration forms on a clear but cold early Friday morning. We followed the directions of the army men and women, in uniform, who kindly directed us to the lines we needed to stand in. Everything was very organized and efficient. The vaccine itself was a quick pinch. We waited together in seats near a large window- the waiting time after a vaccine is 15 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction. My husband was outside- he had taken time off from work to drive us.
It's hard to sum up my gratitude for all of it- for the good fortune to be able to get an appointment time for my mother and I to go together, for my husband for driving us, for the scientists who developed the vaccine, for the nurses giving the shot, for the military there to support the efforts. It takes a village to vaccinate a country. I am appreciative of every person who made it possible for my mother and I to get our first dose of the vaccine.
Later the same day, I stand in the hallway of my school. The children have all gone, but the teaches are lining the hallway- socially distant and wearing our masks- to have a "walk-by" baby shower for our music teacher who will have a son in March. Her husband has arrived, carrying flowers. There is a table set up with packaged snacks and baby boy decorations. When the teacher walks down the hall, as the song "Baby Love" plays, tears spring to her eyes as she realizes what is happening. They seat her in a rolling chair and her husband pushes her down the hallway where teachers hand her presents. When she gets back to where I am standing, she is covered in gifts. It is a joyful moment. We have not been together as a faculty to celebrate something joyful in such a long time. I work in a building where everyone comes together always- in good times and especially bad. Envelopes are passed around, money is collected, cards are sent, food is prepared- people just go the extra mile to show kindness to each other. It is a remarkable building- without competitiveness or pettiness. The baby shower felt like another gift on Friday- a chance to celebrate a new beginning, a chance to be together in community. A gift I never fully appreciated until community was taken away for so long, beginning last March.
And so here we are, at March 1, ready for a month of blogging. A month of writing, sharing, commenting, reading, examining, collecting. The posts from March are a gift to me now- a chance to remember what life was like for me at that moment in time. It's hard to give yourself the gift of time to take on a challenge like this, but it is so valuable. It is a gift to yourself and to your future self too.
Wishing everyone a month of unexpected gifts and a March much better than the last!
Last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, started off the Lenten season. I am, I guess, a cafeteria Catholic- I pick and choose what I like about the faith and drop the rest. I attended Catholic school from PreK-8th grade and a Catholic college, where I actually worked in the Campus Ministries office. My faith is part of who I am, but I largely ignore all the rules and do not attend weekly Mass. I guess my point is while I'm Catholic, in recent years, it's almost in name only. I don't actively practice my faith.
And yet, this Lent called to me to give up something, to make a change.
I've decided to limit my social media use to one time a day, for a half and hour or less. No more scrolling through Twitter, Instagram or Facebook at all hours of the day. I didn't want to completely cut off social media because I do like to check in with friends, see my Facebook memories and check out what's trending on Twitter. But doing it one time a day has really felt freeing. I enjoy that bit of time, but the rest of the day, I'm not a slave to my phone. I'm reading actual books and actual magazines. I'm less anxious. I feel more positive.
We will see if I can get this habit to stick beyond the 40 days of Lent and Easter Sunday. Something in me says I should.
Our cavapoo puppy, Teddy, is nearing 5 months old. He has recently graduated from sleeping downstairs to sleeping in my children's bedrooms on alternating nights. Last night, Teddy slept in Megan's room. This morning I woke up early to take Teddy outside before he had an accident on Megan's pale green carpet. He did a stellar job of doing his "business" outside and we came back in. We went back upstairs- I put him in his bed in Megan's room as she slept. I went back downstairs and then decided to check on him a little while later.
He wasn't in Megan's room.
I started calling his name....wondering where he could have gone. Most of the doors upstairs were shut. He wasn't in the hallway. I noticed Alex's door was ajar. Peeking in, I did a double-take. Teddy was snuggled by Alex's head, in his bed.
Alex's bed is pretty high off the ground.
Alex was sound asleep.
Which meant Teddy launched himself to get up onto Alex's bed and assume the snuggling position.
It was absolutely adorable.
Teddy loves us all, but he has a special place in his puppy heart for Alex.
As it should be.
Winter 2021: We have no snow pants, apparently. No sled or snow tube or anything of that nature. In her pajamas, Megan took Teddy out to frolic in the deep snow. It was a sight. An almost 5 month old puppy experiencing snow for the first time. I took a minute to think about how I never would have predicted this moment last winter. I never would have thought we would have gotten a puppy, but a season of quarantining can really change a person.
Winter 2020: Oprah's 2020 Vision Tour with one of my best friends- We rode to Brooklyn on the Long Island Rail Road and sat in the packed Barclay Center. The whole day was so inspiring and memorable. I think back now to how crowded it all was- how many people we were surrounded with. It feels like a different life in our current mask-wearing, socially distant state.
Winter 2018: Reeling. My son was badly injured by a dog while on a playdate. Multiple surgeries. Doctor's appointments. Such sadness, fear, anger. Hard to even write about it, still.
Winter 2016: My sister's 40th birthday. We took a limo to NYC, my mom, my sister and I. We saw the musical "Beautiful" which featured all the music of Carole King and her life story. We went out to dinner. I remember talking a bit about the upcoming presidential election. We had mimosas and appetizers in the limo and it was such a fun mother-daughters day.
Winter 2014- My sister and I took our sons out to lunch and then I think we went to see Frozen in the movies together. The boys were so cute and it was so fun to do a sisters and son date. My mom watched my daughter, who was less than a year.
Winter 2013- Putting the finishing touches on Megan's room as we counted the days until she arrived.
I think about the winters when my son was a baby and I took him to Music Together classes, where he slept in my arms as all the other children danced around with colorful scarves (2011).
I think about the winter I got engaged at the View in Manhattan after seeing The Lion King on Broadway. We took a carriage ride around Central Park (it was freezing) and then a limo met us and took us to South Street Seaport. Magical, unforgettable night. (2007)
I think about the winter where it was so cold that the pavement was a sheet of grass. I could barely walk across the lawn to get to my car after tutoring a little boy in my neighborhood (circa 1996?).
I think about the winter, in snow pants and gloves, trying to catch snow on my tongue and waddling around the backyard (1984).
I think about the winter.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski