On March 13 2020 I went to Utrecht with Daughter, to pay a visit to the Lego store. I then concluded I live on optimal distance from a Lego store. I would like to say that was the last normal day out with Daughter, but to be honest it already felt uncomfortable to take the train and walk around the shopping centre. We were the only visitors in the store. The shopping centre was relatively empty. We went skiing in France in February and I counted the days since our return and mentally marked our group healthy two weeks after returning. My family celebrated my parents’ birthdays on March 8th. We visited a museum and enjoyed high tea in a restaurant, but I seriously wondered whether we should have cancelled it. The stories from Italy were severe. The first Dutch patients were already diagnosed positively for covid-19.
Two days after our Lego store visit, daycare and schools closed. We were told to work from home. As we’ve done since then.
As a family we adjusted. We adjusted to periods where Daughter was allowed back into daycare. We adjusted to the ritual of going to school. We adjusted to Daughter not going to school. We adjusted to Daughter going to school. We adjusted to outdoor life. We adjusted to indoor life. We adjusted to celebrate things online. We adjusted to not eating out. We adjusted to dinners to go. We adjusted to cycling a lot. We adjusted to cycling less. We adjusted to walking a lot. We adjusted to walking less. We adjusted to not being entertained. We adjusted to finishing all exciting Netflix series. We adjusted to wearing face masks. We adjusted to reading more.
The only thing I didn’t need to adjust to was working from home. I’ve done that since the moment I left university more than fifteen years ago and became self-employed.
Barely anything happened last year. Summer was when most interaction with other people took place. Autumn was the slow recline of social gatherings. Winter was for hibernating. Spring is about to begin and viral spread is on the rise again around Europe, despite all the counter measures we’re still taking. We enjoyed a visit to the museum. We enjoyed a few weeks camping in my brother’s back yard. We enjoyed a few dinners and swims at the Man’s sister. We enjoyed a weekend camping with extended family. We enjoyed a few days at my parents’ around new year.
A lot happened last year. Entire testing infrastructures were built from scratch. Apps were developed. The US got rid of mister T with a bit of a stir. The medical community worked their ass of to produce a vaccine. I listened to an interview with which Dutch virologist Jaap Goudsmit and he explained that the mere fact that we already have multiple vaccines being produced on massive scale is a miracle that couldn’t have happened a decade ago. Despite the slow uptake of vaccination in NL (and EU), the bickering about vaccine deliveries and the rows over which country got the better deal, I fully realize that it is a miracle indeed that my father (79) received his first (Pfizer) jab on March 12 2021. Last year we could only hope for cures and vaccines, now we at least have vaccines.
Still, I feel a bit sad that my mental gap year is now officially extended. It will probably be extended until summer holidays. Until then I expect some more adjustments. Just this morning we received a message Daughter’s teacher needed to get tested before coming to school. Luckily, as of this week teachers are allowed to take a speedy test. The teacher got tested before 8AM, 8:50AM we received a message that the teacher was tested negative and by 9:15AM Daughter was in school, 45 minutes later than normal. On the other hand, testing in general is OK, but nothing more than that. Every runny nose is now suspicious and therefore we got Daughter tested twice already. As we didn’t create an official government approved digital identity for her yet, we had to be called back by a call centre employee with the test results. The first time we tested I had to call the call centre myself after two days to hear the result. It shows that the system is still buggy, to say the least. As a result we requested Daughter’s digital ID, which takes a few days to complete.
I can say a lot about how my government is not capable of managing a crisis, but my main mantra this past year was to focus on my own life. I didn’t want to get tangled up in what ifs and other discussions on processes and events beyond my control. That mindset helped me get through this year. Dealing with the reality that’s in front of me today. It also helped me decide to take the plunge and sign up for Techionista Academy. As boring as this (extended) gap year may be, at least I know I come out of it better skilled than I was in March 2020. And vaccinated as well. I couldn’t have dreamed of such an outcome during all those hours I spent in the park, playing with Daughter in Spring 2020.