It’s New Years Eve, the world is waiting for 2020 to disappear into the past and I’m sleeping on the couch with a mask on.
Let me rewind.
This past year has been a rollercoaster for the world, my wife and I included. We had our original plans wedding cancelled. Then we had a small wedding anyway and it was the best day ever. Just a few days after getting married, my wife’s appendix burst and she spent a night alone in the hospital. Things stabilized as we both kept our jobs through the pandemic summer, although work looked a bit different for both of us. We spent more time than ever before without other people as we took caution with out social interactions. We felt isolated at times (well, all the time), but we had each other and it wasn’t all that bad. I was able to connect with some amazing people via social media, my friend Sam and I started a podcast and I committed myself to writing a book and those were exciting new developments. The winter approached and the world slowed down even more than it already had. With news of a vaccine and the new year approaching, there was a small but palpable feeling of hope in the air.
Then Michaela (my wife) tested positive.
We had no idea how she would have been exposed, but any excitement heading into the new year was soon squashed. Instead, we felt a sense of anxiousness and confusion. Did I also have it? Why didn’t I have symptoms? What was the best next thing to do? Would this affect the few people that we had interacted with in the previous weeks?
There were so many questions but not many answers.
So, in our 600 square foot apartment, we decided just a few days before the new year that a quarantine (from each other) would be the most responsible thing to do until I could get tested. That brings us to New Years eve and me on the couch. Instead of spending the night together, celebrating and close, we spent it in separate rooms, masks on and asleep well before 2021 arrived. I remember waking up around midnight because of the noise from our upstairs neighbors. With my eyes still closed, I listened to them count down to the new year “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”
I couldn’t care less.
In that moment, I was over 2020, the arbitrary nature of the “new year” didn’t mean anything and I went back to sleep.
I received negative test results a few days into the new year and felt relieved and frustrated at the same time. I was grateful that I wasn’t sick, but I was upset that the results meant a prolonged period of quarantine from my wife.
We spent the next two weeks living in the same 600 square foot apartment but avoiding each other at all costs. That meant wearing masks always, me sleeping on the couch, disinfecting everything, eating dinner in opposite corners of the apartment, holding hands on walks as our closest contact and much more awkwardness.
Here are the takeaways.
This wasn’t the way we would have liked to start off 2021, but like 2020, we realized that we can’t control what we can’t control. This quarantine was a great chance to respond well to less than ideal circumstances. There were difficult days, but in large, we made the intentional choice to focus on the positives and as a result, we found a new sense of gratitude for all of the little things that we never thought twice about (e.g. health, not having to wear masks inside, being able to kiss each other, not having to clean everything we touch, being able to sleep in the same bed, etc.). We are both doing well and we appreciate everyone who reached out to check on us and offered to help us! It’s all looking up from here!
Thank you for taking the time to read!
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT