If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this quarantine, this pandemic, this exceptionally insane moment in history, it’s how little I actually need.
My birthday is coming up in less than two weeks. I’m turning 40. It’s kind of a big deal. I mean, it feels like it’s a big deal. I remember when my mom turned 40 and the insane surprise party my dad threw for her. It was epic. It was colorful and happy and wonderful and a true celebration of the woman she is and the life she’d led to that point. So I always imagined my 40th birthday would be equally as fantastic! I’ve earned it, dammit! I have lived 40 years without dying while also accomplishing some pretty awesome things. I HAVE EARNED A GIANT EFF OFF PARTY!
Enter the military. “Nope! You’re very likely going to be flying out of one one country into another, laden with eleventy-seven suitcases, two whining children, and one stressed-out husband. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU FOOL!”
Enter COVID-19. “HAHAHAHA! Now you won’t even be on an airplane to visit your family. Your flights home will be delayed indefinitely and, by the way, we’re taking 80% of all the things you own, packing it into crates, and shipping it to the States. We’re not sure when you’ll see it again, if ever.”
Enter Military Pandemic Mode. “You thought you’d have a chill backyard party with your closest friends in Japan, painting pictures of mountains, drinking homemade kombucha cocktails, eating fancy macarons, all under a zillion fairy lights? NOPE! We’ll send ya to the brig if you even look like you’re going to be within six feet of another human you don’t actually live with!”
So yeah. My 40th birthday is probably going to consist of frozen pizza and champagne with none of my friends.
I’m currently sitting at the dining room table, listening to my husband talk shop with our neighbor while our kids play with their friends. Everyone is wearing a mask and everyone is having fun. This is what I want. I want to hear my children having fun and being loud (outside anyway. They are way too damn loud when they’re inside and I CAN.NOT.TAKE.IT.) and making up games about princesses and goblins.
Summer is coming very quickly. I live for the summer months almost as much as I do the Christmas season. The sun staying up late, kids playing until they pass out, backyard barbecues, evening cocktails around firepits. It’s everything I love. And this pandemic is showing me how much I really do love the simplest things. Laughter, a good cocktail, and my framily.
When I think of things going “back to normal”, these are the things I hope for: lingering conversations and snail mail and belly laughs and shared meals.
I don’t need Target or Starbucks. I need my people. I need to know they’re happy. That they’re safe. That they’re loved. I need companionship. I need ease. I need the most basic thing in all of human existence: to know that we all matter.