Yesterday I submitted my grades and had my last lab meeting of 2020. Strange is working this upcoming week. He’s taken Christmas attending coverage every year that we’ve been together, but I have absolutely nothing pressing today. No deadlines. No urgent emails. No home school. Nothing that can’t wait a spell.
It has been at least nine months since I had a day like that. I had told my darling husband Strange that I was worried I was burning out in February of last year. Then COVID-19 entered our community and we were all sent home. I received a familial cancer syndrome diagnosis and went through the first of some procedures to remove masses from my GI tract. We went through a time when there were 10 people living in the house, I was putting together my tenure package and homeschooling two children, and attempting to teach and run a lab full time. I had an opportunity to grow closer to my stepchildren. I grew closer to a group of awesome friends. Strange lost his father, saying goodbye through Facetime as the pandemic raged. We wrote and had accepted (pending a few minor revisions) four papers. I took on a leadership role that has been held by the scientists I admire most in the world. We had three major grants finally funded. We seem to be narrowly avoiding a dictatorship by a much smaller margin than I would have predicted. I don’t feel burnt out anymore. I feel shell shocked.
Things that feel like they happened years ago only happened months ago. I looked in the mirror this morning and, for the first time, I looked old to myself.
I feel like I need to let the experiences of the last nine months wash over me a little. I looked at myself in the mirror, with my hair all disheveled and my bathrobe hanging on my shoulders, and thought, “Who could have imagined you could be this strong?” Also, “Who could have imagined you could feel so afraid?” “Who could have imagined you could feel so sad or so lonely?”
But also, “Who could have imagined you could feel so thankful?”
I have a longstanding tradition. Ok, it’s only 6 years old, but that is nearly a generation in 2020 time. The first weekend after the end of the fall semester, I give in to whatever debauchery I want. I turn off my email and close my course websites and I chill out. No chores. Just laziness.
It won’t last for too long because I have some very lofty goals for 2021, but today I am going to drink a couple of giant cranberry mimosas, perfect my chaffle recipe, finally beat Thumper on VR, and maybe finish Shameless on Netflix. I’m going to smooch my husband and plan cookie baking with my children. I’m just going to relax for a little bit.
My darling readers, I wish you nothing but hope, joy and blessings for 2021. This is going to take a little time to process.