Houseguests Again

Well, it finally happened. Another person entered our bubble. A year to the day that Rudy Gobert licked a microphone, the NBA cancelled its season, and Covid-19 descended on the United States like a swarm of enzymatic locusts.

Enzymatic is a fun word, isn’t it? I don’t think enzymes have much to do with Covid-19. Or anything to do with the virus, in fact. But I like using the word all the same. Hashtag science. If I’ve learned anything from this past year (and I don’t think I have), it’s that if you post something on social media enough (science or logic be damned) people will start to believe it. So if I just keep suggesting that enzymes have something to do with Covid-19, maybe eventually they will? I call this the Tucker Carlson approach to reality. Regardless, throwing around the word enzymes makes me feel good. So I’ll just do it. Like Nike taught me.

Anyway, about our houseguest.

Family friend Natalie arrived last week. She’s an elementary teacher. As vaccinated as vaccinated can be. And she loves our boys and our boys love her. She’s somewhere between a babysitter and an aunt. So Natalie generously took her spring break, as has become the tradition, and joined us for a week in the wilds of Central Pennsylvania. I usually blog about her visits. Check the record for historical accounts of her travels. There’s millions of these blogs to read on cold winter nights. Or warm spring mornings. Or during lonely, isolated pandemics.

Was it weird to introduce strange enzymes into our bubble? As they say where I come from, you betchya. Minnesota is where Natalie comes from too. Who knows what sorts of enzymes she carried across state lines? Through the Detroit airport. Still, I’m as vaccinated as vaccinated can be. And Katie’s had her first shot. And our boys are back in school. So we pulled the trigger. I picked Natalie up from the airport, enzymes and all.

***

The boys couldn’t be more excited when Natalie comes to visit. She really is like an aunt. Natalie has known them both their entire lives. They bounced on the trampoline with her. Solomon demanded that she watch him play Minecraft. Samson forced her to watch Minecraft videos. Promise me you’ll never search “Minecraft Videos with Preston” on Youtube. It’s horrific. They played Quirkle, Exploding Kittens, and colored together. Natalie read to them. They read to Natalie. The boys loved having company. A new face after all these months. Of course we loved the company too. It’s been a long, lonely year since her last visit.

Natalie left last March and the world ended. Life became an endless stream of Zoom meetings. And bad news. But here we are now. Vaccine flowing through our veins. Hopeful that people might once again be able to spray enzymes with reckless abandon. Spit and be spit on.

Did Natalie bring new strains of Covid-19 with her? Of the Michigan variety? Or perhaps a variant from Minnesota that is nice on the outside but cold as ice on the inside? It’s possible. But our immune systems fought off whatever enzymes stowed away with our houseguest. A wonderful, domestic time was had by all. Natalie got back on a plane on Sunday, and returned to Minnesota. My boys always cry when she leaves. I feel sad too. It’s so nice to have company out here. Family friend Donna is another regular visiter. She’s something of a grandmother for the boys. Looking forward to her next visit as well. And Katie’s parents. These are the people who have come to visit regularly. My dad has been out here few times too. Other than that, our nuclear family has pretty much been on our own. Making a go of it in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Building a life before all this enzymatic nonsense begin. Hoping to keep building when it ends, too.

***

So many people have so many opinions about the pandemic. I’ve no interest in hashing those out in this little blog. Or on social media, or in contentious and violent ways. That’s not the way I move through the world. But I’ll admit I’m tired of the rhetoric. Tired of the discourse. Tired of the polarized opinions. Mostly, I’m tired of the pandemic. Ready for another season.

Natalie’s visit was a little step in that direction. Another person in our house. No masks. Connection with other people that didn’t involve Zoom. Another human being for our boys to direct some energy towards. It was a maskless breath a fresh air.

Her visit makes me lonesome, too. Makes me want to be able to take a road trip back home. See the people in Minnesota I miss. Friends and family. I want to go to a Twins game. Or the Como Zoo. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been back there. Feels like a lifetime. And like a second. Covid time is so strange. So blurry.

So, this week’s blog is just a musing on family friend Natalie and her annual visit. And on enzymes. And on how badly I want this pandemic to fade away like a bad dream.

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