With each COVID-related blow to our sense of normalcy, I contract. First, it was the acknowledgement that Dave might be away working at the hospital indefinitely; then the school closings; then the news of the California shelter-in-place; then our own shelter-in-place here in Baja.
Today, the men who are building our house next door arrive wearing bright white masks. They are preparing the job site for a break – timeframe unknown.
As our dream goes on pause, I let myself start to imagine life here without the constant hum of work next door, which I realize has brought a significant sense of hope over these past 4 months. Each day the workers have arrived, my heart has fluttered a bit – hope alive. Movement forward. We’re on the path. But now, we pause and enter the unknown once again.
I also start to imagine what the subtle yet noticeable change in my everyday experience – no more music, no more hammering, no more mixing machine – might feel like. Yesterday, I felt weeds of fear start to creep in.
Genuine concern for my community turned into worry about what could happen now that the tourism economy has dried up. For the first time in a long time – since I cleansed my mind from the media-created fear of living in Mexico – I felt fear for our safety.
I started to wonder if we should go back to the United States. Flights may stop.
Last night, as my children were falling asleep, I laid down in my bed. I felt my feet. I breathed more deeply – filling my lower belly, middle belly, ribs and chest. I lengthened my inhalations and my exhalations to match. My awareness became curious about what was going on in my body. Where I felt tight, where I might relax.
Soon, I felt more spacious. I remembered that I can trust my system to give me information in each moment, and in the present, I am safe; we are.
This morning, the kids, the dogs and I walk out to the empty beach in front of our house as we do each day. The dogs chase a ball. The kids and I play in the sand. An abnormal sight as of late, I see a couple walking towards us from down the beach in the distance. As I turn back towards the kids, an older man in a cowboy hat and pajama pants approaches us.
“Hi,” he says.
“Hi, how are you?” I reply as my system tries to register whether I know him.
“I am your neighbor. I live over there in the white house,” he says, wearing a kind smile from a couple meters away.
“Oh, I have been wanting to meet you!” I exclaim as my body lights up.
This chapter of life with two toddlers is intense, and I haven’t gone out to meet as many of my neighbors as I have liked. I frequently think that I’d like to invite people over or go around saying hi, and then the reality of nap time and playtime and mealtimes kicks in.
The man tells me he has been intending to come say hi for a long time. We continue our chat, as the couple approaches. They are the other neighbors I had been hoping to meet…for months!
From the appropriate physical distance, we talk about the current situation and our shared gratitude for being here. We talk about grandkids and our kids. They offer to help me get groceries for our family.
We exchange phone numbers and comfort. The couple walks back to their house, the man to his. I gather the ball, the chuck-it, the dogs and the kids, and we head back, a little lighter, to our little place here on the beach.