We are now moving into our second year of covid restrictions. I have not eaten a meal indoors at a restaurant since March 14, 2020, at a Culver’s near St. Louis. Over the past couple of months, Elizabeth and I had started to get back to eating outdoors at restaurants, encouraged by Scipio’s improving behavior when we left him. Then, a few weeks ago, he started destroying everything in sight the moment we left, especially the carpet in front of our front door. So now, we’re back to square one and working with him to make him better at staying home alone.
I still have not met many of my classmates, approaching the halfway point through grad school. Heck, today is the first day that I’ve been in the NWC during normal working hours since we got the dog. Between the pandemic and the pandemic puppy, it has been super easy to shut down emotionally and socially. He does keep Elizabeth and me busy enough to last a day. The only issue, for me at least, is that each day of work-from-home leaves a deep feeling of dissatisfaction that can be hard to put a finger on. I’m exercising more than ever, I’m spending a lot of time with Elizabeth and my puppy, and I’m setting my own schedule every day. Heck, I can even work from bed. So what’s the issue?
And it usually hits me: I miss people. I miss sitting in the OWL lab, looking over people’s shoulders as they forecast. I miss lunchtime at the Flying Cow. I miss sitting on the O Deck with the rest of the building as a shelf cloud comes in – and I miss it even more after we had a cute little storm come through Tuesday, which I resorted to showing my OWL shift from the 5th floor windows via Zoom on my laptop since the O Deck is closed.
Fortunately, there is hope. Vaccines are rolling out across the country. Last month, thanks to a tip from a grad classmate, I scheduled an appointment to get vaccinated through the Wewoka Indian Health Center. On March 10, a few days after accompanying Elizabeth to the Lindsay, Oklahoma Wal-Mart to get her first shot, I headed out eastbound on Highway 9 towards Wewoka. After a full hour of driving, I arrived at the Indian Health Center’s vaccination site – essentially, a drive-in shed similar to a place you’d go to get your oil changed. I pulled in, filled out my paperwork, and was in the process of telling the nurse that I’m kind of scared of getting shots when he stuck the needle in me. And just like that, I was on my way to 90% immunity.
Just last Wednesday, I took a return trip to Wewoka to get my second vaccine (#ModernaGang).
It’s been a long wait, but Elizabeth reaches 2 weeks after her shot tomorrow, and I get there next Wednesday. That means that we can see other vaccinated people, travel, and generally try to ease our way back to normal. We’re proceeding cautiously, in light of our pandemic puppy, but just this week we met with a potential dogsitter for him, and Scipio *loved* Lauren and her house. He’s going to get his first chance to spend the night with Lauren next Thursday, when Elizabeth and I are taking a “staycation” – a one-night trip up to downtown Oklahoma City to enjoy our first indoor dining experience in forever, followed by a stay in a non-dog-smelling hotel. I can’t wait for that. In fact, just tonight, we’re dropping Scipio off with friends so that we can have our first not-socially-distanced gathering at our apartment, celebrating James getting a full-job at NWS Wichita. Combine that with the grad student party I’ve been invited to next weekend, and life suddenly starts to have a weird veneer of normality through the abnormality.
James isn’t the only one who’s got a new job. I’ve just been accepted and confirmed with a start date of May 24 at the National Weather Service forecast office in Blacksburg, VA. It’ll be a virtual summer internship, so I’ll have plenty of time to research this summer, and hopefully time to play with Scipio and spend time with Elizabeth. But still, this is an absolute dream come true – and I wouldn’t mind living full-time in Blacksburg once grad school is over.
Ever so slowly, the light is shining at the end of the tunnel. I’m determined to keep focusing on that light.