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Perspective

The significance perspective has on our lives is an understated knowledge, only fully realized by those who take the time to truly consider the perspectives of others. Moreover, it can only be realized when a person applies those considerations to the way they interact with others. We all know that culture, race, religion, social status, economic status, prejudices, abuses, addiction, mental health, and physical health are just a few of the factors that contribute to a person’s viewpoint. What many people fail to comprehend is the longevity of these experiences and the significance they have on our lives. Perspective is malleable. Every experience a person has (good or bad) continuously molds their perspective. A person has no choice but to apply new experiences to their existing perspectives and adjust accordingly. This means that every experience we have is indelibly linked to our social, political, and religious beliefs. However, it also means we all have an inalienable right to change our perspectives, to adjust to this life as we see fit. While we can agree or disagree with others, we are humanly incapable of viewing a situation with the same perspective as someone else. This means we must learn to accept the fact that there is no correct answer; there is no single truth – we each have our own truth.

The perspective within this blog is mine. It is the result of my 38 years of challenges and triumphs. However, I reserve the right to learn and change these views as I grow as a person.

Community

They say “home is where your heart is,” or, “home is where your family is.” While I understand the sentiment behind these statements, I believe the truth falls more along the lines of your heart is where your family is; home is where community becomes a part of your family.”

My family and I found ourselves moving between 3/7/2020 and 3/9/2020, just 4 days before the COVID-19 school closures in California. The back story to our move is complicated. Deciding to leave our neighborhood was a struggle; my husband and I were torn between not wanting to leave and the inability to afford a single story home in the neighborhood we loved so much. After many arguments, we decided to purchase a home outside our neighborhood. It was the perfect decision on paper but an impossible emotional decision to have made. Unfortunately, some negative actions on the part of the sellers enveloped the move in a cloud of frustration which lingered into our attitudes about purchasing the house in the first place. Then, four short days after we moved we were confined inside. Today marks the 30th day since the girls and I have left the premises. Yet, regardless of the amount of time we’ve spent here – this house still doesn’t feel like home.

I understand this sounds trivial to some people. I get it, my first-class problem makes me seem shallow and whiny for complaining about a wonderful house when others have no home at all. I can hear it now: we should feel lucky we could afford a home at all; we shouldn’t complain because we still live in a good neighborhood and a wonderful school district; we have nothing to complain about because we made the choice – no one forced us into it. Again, I get it. Believe me – I am grateful for everything we have (including this house). What hurts is that the loss of our community has hit harder than we thought it would. Moreover, the significance of what it means to live in a community you feel a part of is stronger than we ever imagined, and sadly, something I dismissed due to severe pain and a need to have better floors and no stairs.

In the end, what hits me the hardest is looking out the front door and having no connection to the space around me. We cannot go beyond our premises; we have not been able to play at the park or walk the neighborhood; we have not met any neighbors; I’m not driving to and from the house everyday which means this location has not been solidified in my brain as where I live; there is no camaraderie during this tumultuous time – I cannot walk and leave gifts or nice notes for friends on their doorsteps and they cannot do the same for us; I don’t even recognize the sounds – not even the birds are the same in this neighborhood. Beyond my lack of connection to this house, my girls are sad they do not have their friends close; their school is closed indefinitely (unbeknownst at the time, their last day on campus was the last day they would ever see their teachers and most of their friends); and, they have been unable to make new friends in this neighborhood because of the isolation. If we lived in our old community we would be able to take walks around the lake (while social distancing, of course). We would be able to leave notes and drawings on our friends’ porches; we would feel safe and comfortable with the neighborhood we were trapped in; and most of all, everything would be familiar . . . we would feel like we were home. So, to those who say “home is where your heart is,” I say, “move during a pandemic and then tell me whether or not community plays any part of a house feeling like a home.”

Sleep during the pandemic

When someone asks, “how did you sleep?” how are you supposed to respond? Habitually, the answer spewing from my mouth has been “fine.” But let’s be real – that answer is far from the truth. The honest (yet sarcastic) responses might be, “Great! I enjoyed my long night of intense nightmares about suffocating due to pneumonia caused by COVID-19, how about you?” Or, “Fabulous! I dreamed one of my kids died and I divorced my husband for refusing to stop working, blaming the death on him.” Or, “You know . . .  just another nightmare that I died, leaving my kids to grow up without me.” I can’t even begin to choose which one of these has been the most terrifying nightmare. They all cause me to awake in an agonizing terror, uncertain of what the future holds and knowledgeable of the fact that each and every one of my nightmares is a possibility if this virus were to hit our household. Nightmares used to be outrageous fears my unconscious mind fictionalized and turned into a nighttime movie – but now – now they are terrifying possibilities of situations happening all around the world. How does a person cope with that? How do you sleep through a pandemic without waking ten times a night from feasible nightmares? Sleep is essential and I’m essentially getting none.

Let me be clear: I do not have COVID-19 (thank every spiritual being across all beliefs regardless of the fact that I’m an atheist; also, knock on wood and cross my fingers that my family and I never contract the virus). Nevertheless, my 5-year-old daughter and I are both high risk so an intense fear about the possibilities lives deep within me. During the day I have no choice but to control my fears; otherwise, my children would see me do nothing but cry and obsess over it. Obviously I cannot let them see the depth of my fear so I have managed to keep “daytime Jessica” in check. Unfortunately for my sleep cycle, I am unable to control my unconscious mind so these nightmares (and a severe lack of sleep) are the result.

Ironically, despite the feeling of ridiculousness when asking someone, “how did you sleep?” I find myself habitually asking my kids this very question. Perhaps it’s a way to gauge how well I’m sheltering them from the terror I walk through every second of every day. Maybe I take comfort in hearing their tiny voices say, “good mama.” It lets me know they have not yet realized the severity of the danger that faces us . . . especially since their dad is still working. Not only is he still working, he is also: not wearing a mask (which has been mandated); not wearing gloves in stores; has gone to a meeting in another city after the lockdown; and, eats at fast food restaurants daily. But, I digress . . .

So, how should we respond to the question, “did you sleep well?” From here on out, I think I’m going to try the honesty approach. If I’m honest in my response, maybe I’ll see that I’m not alone . . .