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Deja Vu...My Pandemic Life Anniversary Story

Today marks the one year anniversary since Colorado's Governer, Jared Polis announced that all of the ski resorts in our state would shut down "temporarily" due to all of the uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic as our state experienced a rapid rise in COVID cases in several ski towns especially in Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen, towns that normally feel like they exist in their own little bubbles and I'm having a bit of a deja vu moment on more than a few different levels.

I was unexpectedly in Telluride visiting my son on this day last year. It was his father who was supposed to visit him from Tampa for an expected week of spring skiing together. I was actually supposed to be in New York visiting my daughter but that trip got canceled just as unexpectedly a few days before when it was very apparent that the you know what was about to hit the proverbial fan especially after it was announced that Broadway was shutting down.

Trust me, I wasn't replacing one vacation for another. I was fully aware that I should have stayed put in my little Boulder bubble while the country was trying to hash out exactly what we were all supposed to do.

And then my son called me the morning I was supposed to be leaving for NY to tell me he had just found out his college roommate had died (non-COVID related) and he was desperately wanting to get back to Florida in time for the memorial service. Given the fact that both myself and his father had separately canceled trips less than 12 hours before, there was no way either one of us wanted our son to get on a plane for any reason until things "calmed down".

Little did we know we would still be waiting for the true "calm" to come a year later.

For as long as I live I will always remember exactly where I was the moment I felt the door slam shut on our lives due to the pandemic. And for as long as I live I will never regret the decision I made to be exactly where I was at that moment despite the risk I knew I was taking by traveling to Telluride to comfort my son.

I am not a "helicopter mom" in case you are wondering.

Far from it in fact.

I raised my kids to be very independent and teach them that when life throws you whatever curveballs you have to learn how to follow the revised trajectory in order to find your new "sweet spot". I'm not suggesting there has been anything "sweet" about a pandemic that has killed millions worldwide and threw us into a major economic crisis. I just needed to make sure my son was going to be able to figure out how to handle feeling like he was getting slammed by a ball going 90 miles an hour.

He not only lost a very close friend that weekend but also both jobs and his housing. So, yes, I did go into Mama Bear mode and yes again, that did include stopping along the way at several grocery stores as well as a Target and Walmart in Montrose, the last city with significant resources before Telluride and grabbing whatever provisions I could for him knowing that the tiny market in Telluride would quickly run out of supplies in the midst of the panic and hoarding that had already begun.

While it may have appeared to those that dared to judge my decision that I was having too much fun hanging out with my son I promise...behind all of the social media photo smiles...I was a mother doing everything in my power to keep my child from going over the edge. Nevermind, he literally went over a mountain edge and disappeared into what I felt like was an abyss when we went skiing together for the first time ever on that fateful day last year. This was his jumping-off point...

And as he entered the abyss I used a few expletives that I feel were not very PG-rated and since I promised Google my website doesn't need parental controls I did cut the video before my language became less than appropriate and he disappeared completely. As a mother watching my "baby" go over this edge I was admittedly a little freaked out...

All freak-outs aside, I was being the best mother I knew how to be in that space and time. And keeping my son distracted from the reality he faced that weekend was all I cared about.

When we decided it was time to make the last run down the mountain we stopped at the area referred to as "The Beach" complete with Adirondack chairs, a tiki hut, and live music. Sitting there with the bright Colorado sun, bluebird sky, and, yes, a margarita in hand felt like the most natural thing we could possibly do. It actually felt like we didn't have care in the world...for about 45 minutes...

And then we skied the short distance down to the base and headed to one of the restaurants where my son had been employed. His friend who was working that evening came over to us and asked if my son had seen the text from TellSki announcing the official closing of the resort for the remainder of the season. They were going beyond Governor Polis' order realizing the Telluride ski season would have been over in 2 weeks anyway and it didn't make sense to reopen for just one more week if the order was lifted within the originally anticipated time frame.

Suffice it to say, I watched whatever joy we felt from our day on the slopes together completely dissipate from my son's face and that was truly the moment when I realized the impact this was going to have not only on my son and the town of Telluride but the entire world.

I then did what any other mother would do when a child's world was crumbling around him...I order two shots of Old Pappy Whiskey .


No judgment please.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and as a whiskey gal who had been wanting to try this very high-end and hard-to-find elixir, I decided if there was ever a night to go big or go home that night exactly one year ago was it. Besides, we were able to use his 40% discount and his friend gave us another 20% off so justifying the shots was a no-brainer...

I've seen my son once since last March when he and my daughter came to visit me this past November, another decision that I was fully aware of the risk but have absolutely no regrets. We did everything we possibly could to ensure the limited risk of exposure including taking COVID tests before, during and after our time together. If this photo taken at the Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado doesn't exude pure joy I don't know what will...

Now, as I am writing this and reflecting back on the entire year, I am actually in Santa Fe, a place I did not expect to be 4 days ago just like I didn't expect to be in Telluride a year ago. This trip, however, had nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the epic snowstorm that was predicted for Colorado Front Range this weekend.

Here's the thing...I don't do storms.


I mean I have hunkered down through plenty of them throughout my life but my preference has always been to get the hell out of Dodge if possible. I lived through far too many snow storms, ice storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes not to mention 20+ years of rolling blackouts in Florida whenever the heat and humidity overloaded the electrical system. And after seeing what happened recently in Texas with the power grid failure, I decided to ride out #snowmaggedon2021 somewhere else.

But before the thought of leaving had entered my brain this past Wednesday, I had what can only be described as one of my GSD in "get shit done".

Oops, sorry Google... "get STUFF done" days.

Hey, I’m a professional organizer so I tend to treat them with a laser-focused mindset and very detailed plan so when I do have an entire day like this I need it to go very smoothly. I can adjust and pivot but I really prefer that everything go according to how I map it out. I mean, I know that is how everyone would prefer day-to-day life to roll but I tend to be slightly obsessive...ok, fine, more than slightly.

From the time I had my first of 3 Zoom calls starting at 6:30 am I didn't stop all day jumping from one call and appointment to the next until just after 9 pm. I intentionally didn't have any in-person It's Just Stuff clients so I could truly get several personal tasks checked off my TO-DO list including... acupuncture appointment to help address a 3-month long insomnia cycle...UGH!

...a long overdue hair appointment...YAY!

...and a stop at a furniture store for an It's Just Stuff client to pick out new fabric for a couch he had ordered almost two months ago that the manufacturer just advised was back-ordered until July or August... #PANDEMICLIFE!

When I got to the next item on my agenda, my annual physical exam, I walked in with the confidence of a proud peacock strutting her feathers feeling like, “Yeah, I’m nailing this day”.

And then I waited almost 30 a very empty waiting room before being taken back to the exam room. No worries...I was smart enough to put a 30-minute buffer around this appointment so I was still feeling like I would make it to the first of 3 virtual consults even if it meant participating off-camera for the first one while driving home.

Little did I know that the nurse practitioner doing the exam would want to be significantly more thorough than my now-retired doctor had ever been.

My carefully planned late afternoon/evening was officially thrown off schedule and I was suddenly scrambling to reschedule the 3 calls for times that evening around my 6 pm telehealth call with a different nurse practitioner who is also helping to address my insomnia cycle.

Even with this scheduling snafu, when I say I am going to get STUFF done I really mean it. I go into my "Action Girl" mode and there really is no slowing me down until I am ready to officially call my day complete. This past Wednesday when I closed out of my last Zoom call around 9:30 pm I finally had a chance to breathe.

That breath lasted all of about 10 seconds, though, when I looked at the latest predictions for the weekend storm and I immediately decided, "I'm out". Whatever it would take, I was getting as far away as possible but still within a 6-hour drive. I called a friend that I knew would probably want to join me on this adventure and without hesitation, she said yes to the idea as did one other friend. A quick conference call later we had a plan to leave the next afternoon.

I tried to go to sleep but my mind of course was racing thinking about what I needed to do before leaving. Emails and texts to clients canceling sessions through Wednesday were on the top of the list. Fortunately, the clients on Thursday and Friday were regular ones that know I sometimes have to reschedule them to fit in with others and completely understood the required shift. And the chances that I would have been able to get to any other clients in the days that followed the massive dump of precipitation were looking very slim with forecasts of up to 4 feet of snow in the Greater Boulder area.

I did not end up sleeping very much which was not a surprise but definitely made getting out of bed and dealing with the list I made throughout the night a bit more daunting. Nevertheless, I pushed through like I always do. And just as I zipped up my duffle and put everything I was taking by the front door waiting for my friends to pick me up as well as made sure to turn off the water valves to my toilet and washing machine along with leaving every sink dripping in the hopes it would prevent any flooding if the pipes did freeze while I was away (have I mentioned I'm kind of detail oriented/somewhat obsessive???), I decided to quickly check my emails to see if there was anything I needed to address before getting on the road.

And there it was...the email I had actually been hoping for since I moved into my apartment 6 months ago. The property management company who has completely ignored basically every maintenance request I've made had finally agreed to remove the disgusting carpet that they said would be replaced prior to the actual move-in.

The date for the installation? This Wednesday...great, just great. I'll be driving back from Santa Fe on Wednesday...hopefully.

The likelihood it will truly happen is slim to none if the snow cannot be cleared enough for them to work on Monday and Tuesday and, therefore, delaying everything at least a few days. But I knew that if I didn't prepare my apartment prior to leaving for Santa Fe the property management company would miraculously get to my apartment on Wednesday morning and refuse to do the installation because I hadn't taken everything off of any furniture they will be moving around as well as anything stored on the floor of my closet or under my bed.

I raced around my apartment grabbing everything as quickly as possible and while I will no doubt be going home to a completely disorganized space, I closed the door behind me and truly haven't given it another thought since.

I'm sure there are some who will judge the decision to come to Santa Fe just like they judged my decision to go to Telluride a year ago as well as many other decisions I've made throughout my life. I've been accused of "running away" from problems but I have always looked at it as I am "running to" solutions that just feel right for me. I don't impose them on others (or at least I try not to) and I am definitely not hurting anyone.

Am I exerting some sort of entitlement?

I will argue no despite the fact that many people will argue it does take a certain amount of financial security to feel as though I should justify these types of experiences. But anyone that knows me well enough knows I have never let money get in the way of doing what I think is right for my emotional and mental health. If I did I promise I never would have made the decision to move from Florida to Colorado almost 5 years ago, a decision I made when I was already in debt from a recent divorce.

I came to Santa Fe to escape whatever reality is happening in Boulder but, more importantly, I came here for my own sanity and self-preservation. And I also came here because I believe everything really does happen for a reason despite what one guy I went on a date with right before pandemic lockdown said was bullshit (wait, bull pucky). Yes, that was the one and only date we went on...I have no time for his kind of bull pucky....#sorrynotsorry.

So after 3 months of very little sleep while ramping up and going all-in with It's Just Stuff in a way I had never done before I am using this escape to really decompress. I mean, come on, how can you not in a magical place like New Mexico, especially if you can manage to get to Bandelier National Monument just outside of Los Alamos...OMG!!!

I was in Santa Fe for all of 4 hours on my way back to Albuquerque for a flight home after a week-long ski vacation in Taos which, coincidentally was 28 years ago this week. It was also the week that my first husband and I decided we were going to start trying to get pregnant and we threw all caution to the spiritual winds that blow across the sacred land surrounding that ski town.

Nevermind I wasn't ovulating that week and obviously can't claim this is where my daughter was conceived. That did happen, though, less than 2 months later back in Kentucky where we were living at the time. It still seems kind of weird to think, though, I am in the same physical place at the exact same time all those years ago. Emotionally, though, I came here 3 days ago in a completely different place in life for sure and I feel so content and at peace.

And my kids? They were actually with their father in Big Sky for a ski trip the past several days. So my son finally got to spring ski with his dad as well as his sister, something they haven't done together in several years. My son is also getting to experience the downside of flying to another ski town because his flight through Denver was canceled today and he is now driving back to Telluride today and tomorrow, stopping for the night in Salt Lake City. Bummer for him although it is a beautiful drive and hopefully he will be able to enjoy it to some degree.

So, yes, I am feeling a little deja vu right now on many levels. And it all feels exactly right. I am not going to let anyone take this away from me and I am going to continue to savor every moment. I am not sure if we are going to be able to get back to Boulder on Wednesday but if not we are prepared to head somewhere else. I packed plenty of clothes in anticipation of a potential delayed return and, as my mother always said whenever we were packing for a trip, I'm not going to be in the middle of the wilderness. There is definitely a Walmart or Target within an hour or two of anywhere we might go so we will be just fine especially if it means we get to enjoy more beautiful scenery like this...

I'm pretty sure that is Taos Mountain to the far left but don't quote me on that.

By the really does takes very little for me to be amused and entertained.

That said, I will admit this may not have been the best week to go on a gluten, sugar, dairy, and alcohol-free diet as part of my insomnia curing strategy...sigh.

Don't tell my wellness coach but we bought a bottle of Sherry at a fantastic restaurant in town and I did partake in it a bit along with the amazing bread we dipped in Spanish olive oil and some sort of delicious soft cheese. I would say I am feeling guilty but that would be a lie, however, I probably shouldn't have justified the brownie bites we bought at Safeway after dinner but I only had one and my body didn't dissolve into a puddle of bad eating choices so I'm good.

From my little happy place in Santa Fe where the sunsets are stunning even from a Safeway parking lot...

...and my feet are staying nice and toasty warm by a fire that I am proud to say I made (thank you Camp Tanuga for teaching me that life skill many decades ago) safe...and, please, be kind wherever you are and whatever your circumstances are on this day of remembrance for us all.


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