Now that we've hit March 2021 and we've been in pandemic mode for just about a year (for me pandemic mode starts on the 13th), I find myself looking back more and more on what the beginning of this month looked like for me in 2020.
On this day in 2020 I was blogging about a digital photo frame that I had in my cubicle. A year ago I was working in an office and couldn't imagine anything else. While I worked from home on occasion (and was something I appreciated), the routine was to hop in my SUV and deal with early morning traffic, What a pain traffic was, especially as I got closer to the city (even though I never really got close to the city.) Getting to the office suite meant leaving the house by 7:30 or so. It's been a year and its funny how the daily routine has faded in my memory. I know I would try to find a "good" parking space near the front door. (The building was on marshland and there were places that you definitely did not want to park.) I'd grab my purse, my bag (or backpack...I'd switch off) and my insulated cup of coffee (which I would reheat in another cup that was microwavable once I got settled) and head inside. I'd wait for the slow elevator to go up 2 floors (there was no staircase accessible from the inside of the building at the front) and head down the hallway to the suite. I'd go in the "back" door by the kitchen so that I could put my lunch in the fridge. If I was the first person in (usually I was the 2nd), I'd turn on the coffee maker and the kitchen lights, but not the office lights.
It wasn't that dark in the office as there were plenty of windows and I had a cubicle by a big window. I had a love/hate relationship with that window. I loved that I could see the world outside my office. The birds (and there were a lot of them), the marsh (with the tides that went in and out), and NYC in the distance. (I could truly count the cars on the NJ turnpike.) I hated it when it got too hot but refused to lower the blind because I NEEDED that view.
I'd take off my coat, hanging it up on the hook that I had specifically for it, unpack my laptop and dock it. I'd turn it on. I'd turn on my digital photo frame. I'd get to work.
Co-workers would trickle in. As I said, I was usually the 2nd person in; Moira would be third. Ro would come in 4th, calling out that she had arrived since she worked on the other side of the room. Rick, who sat behind me would usually come in just after that. We took the same route to the office, only he lived further west that I did so his drive was longer. We'd bitch about the traffic. We'd always check Google maps for traffic before leaving in the evening. The highway always had too much red; which meant heavy traffic. The question was would it be easier to deal with the stop and go of the highway or should I try a back road which would also be congested with traffic and traffic lights. Which way might be faster/easier? This was an important discussion.
Nick was always the last one in. He was not a morning person, but when I was slowing down at the end of the day, he was still going strong. I haven't seen Nick and most of the others in a year. When the office lease was expiring and we were packing up in October I did get to spend a little bit of time with Ro, Rick and our in office HR person. Everyone else has faded from my orbit. Do the people I once saw daily (or in some cases weekly since several people only came in once a week) still work for the company? How are they? What are they doing? How are the coping? What about the other acquaintances I made who I didn't work with? The people I chatted with in the elevators and hallways? The ladies room conversations?
One year ago I could have never imagined NOT working in an office. Not going in day after day. Not making that drive. Not seeing those people. But now that office is gone, so the possibility of returning to a reality that I had from 2016 to 2020 is no more. (And some part of me desperately wants to go back and check out the building again.) That is not just strange, it's also unfair.
It was just a year ago that I was looking out the window and seeing the wetlands. Working in a large cubicle and chatting with coworkers. Who would have thought it would have ended so quickly and so bizarrely? In what world would I instead be sitting in the "home office" which I share with my husband (and in actuality is not much larger than the cubicle that I once called home)? That my view would change from reeds blowing in the wind, creek tides ebbing and flowing and egrets settled among it all to the side of my neighbors house (the one that used to belong to my parents, but now in no way resembles it?). That I wouldn't need to fill up my gas tank once a week. That I wouldn't even have to dress professionally or put on make-up and do my hair. (Some days I do, some days I don't.)
This is the new reality, only it's not so new anymore. This is life in March 2021. Who knows what I'll be saying in March 2022. Life is full of change and surprise; the only thing we can expect is the unexpected.