My Quarantined, Stay-At-Home, Shelter In Place Mind

Miriam E. A.Thompson > Miriam’s Blog > Writing > My Quarantined, Stay-At-Home, Shelter In Place Mind

Miriam Adrien-Thompson

Yesterday, I finally got a grasp of rounding off in math.

I was teaching my son this concept the wrong way. Well, that should teach me something. As a daughter of lifelong educators, I sure got my comeuppance.

Teachers do not get respect. They are undervalued, taken for granted, passed over when budget talks take centerstage and not being given the ticker tape parades. Their patience far exceeds mine.

I am sorry, teachers, that I paid lip service to your cause.

Never again.

Remote learning with my children during the past three weeks has been challenging, to day the least. Add teleworking to the mix and it is chaotic.

This pandemic and the restrictions imposed for our safety can wreak havoc in one’s mind. Being transparent with you, I can say that this is not my normal.

Take my teleworking status as an example. Wake up, showered, think about outfit choices, pick an outfit choice, start up the Keurig, grab my bag and drive off to the Park and Ride.

Now I get up, grab a cup of coffee and decide which part of my home would be my workspace. There is no need to think about outfits. Just a plain t-shirt and sweats would do. However, when I jump on video-conference calls, I do dress appropriately. Unlike those lawyers who appeared on their Zoom calls with a judge looking like they rolled out of bed.

One morning, I woke up, stared into the mirror and wanted to feel like I was alive. I chose an outfit, filled in my eyebrows and smeared lipstick on my lips. Even if my workspace was five steps away, I wanted my appearance on a video conference call to project the message that I was coping well under the circumstances.

Social media has given all of us an insight into how our brothers and sisters around the world are coping with the pandemic. People are learning to bake, dye their hair without a colorist or hairstylist, explore creative projects and even find new ways to keep connections.

This had me hearkening to my upbringing before I migrated to the United States. What if this island life prepared me to survive a moment such as this?

I will begin with this memory: I spent Sunday mornings sitting before a large plastic tub with laundry powder and a blue cake of laundry soap. There were clotheslines placed at the back of our home to hang the laundry. We always monitored the weather. One drizzle and there was a mad dash to salvage clothes off the line.

Meals: My father is the greatest farmer I know. We had a large garden with guava trees, pineapple, an avocado tree, soursop tree, mango trees and all manners produce. The grocery store was as needed. Produce from the ground through organic means kept us nourished.

I never went to a beauty shop in those days. My mother was my hairstylist. My naturally curly, coily, kinky mane had undergone changes both chemical and non-chemical. I have long embraced my hair as mine knowing it will remain the same until my last breath. Grey hairs appear and boxes of hair dye could never make them disappear.

My island upbringing was simple. We had little resources as compared to the United States and other developed countries. To this day, I hate to hear my part of the world being labelled Third World. The will to live and survive against the odds is the story of my island and my island upbringing. This came from my ancestors who were enslaved from Africa, forced to make the treacherous journey through the Middle Passage to Saint Lucia to work on plantations. Having to endure 14 years of wars between the French and British without any say in their destinies.

My mind is evolving.

You have been patient to read the ramblings of my quarantined mind.

Let us still hold on to all that is humane,

M.

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