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When Love Requires Quarantine


So, this happened last week.

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Eight days of cruise ship magic and wonder, evening entertainment, limeades and margaritas, karaoke and water slides, three international ports, all punctuated with an exclamation mark of a day at Disney World.

So, basically, we did all the things that they say you shouldn’t be doing right now.

We have long wanted to do a family cruise, and when we found a week that worked for all eight of us, we booked it, like you do. No, it didn’t align with spring break, and no, that didn’t stop me. A few emails, a list of assignments, and good relationships with your teachers will solve that little hiccup.

(Listen. Lean in close. My family knows sadness and loss. We know about happiness that doesn’t happen because you waited too long to book the trip. So when the stars align and the dates open up, we book the trip. The happiness happens as soon as possible.)

There is way less Coronavirus panic on the ship, let me tell you. And I’m sure that’s intentional; surely they’re not going to tell us every blip on the radar of concerns and crises. For example, we were supposed to port on four different islands. At the very last minute, one of those ports was cancelled. The word on the boat was that it was too windy, and I imagined the times when I’ve been driving on icy roads, intent on turning left… except then my car slid past that left turn and I discovered, this machine is in charge. It’s not turning on the ice today.

So I thought maybe docking a ship in the wind is like that, and maybe that was the case. Maybe it really was a little too windy to navigate the left turn to the island.

But, also, maybe that island decided they weren’t taking any risks today. Maybe they cast their eyes on our ship and said, “Sail away, folks. Nothing to see, buy, breathe, or contaminate here. Take your dirty hands elsewhere.” And so we sailed on. Maybe it was too windy… or maybe we were uninvited to the party.

There were a few questions that emerged over and over:
How fast do you think we’re going right now?
How deep do you think the water is right here?
And what crisis do you think they’re keeping from us right now?

And then we raised our glass for another virgin daquiri. Because you can’t live in fear. Might as well pour another.

When we booked our Caribbean cruise, the Coronavirus wasn’t a thing. I didn’t even think about buying toilet paper before we left, and then I came back to learn that there are a handful of cases of Corona in our area, and apparently all of the toilet paper in the state is gone.

Panic has hit the suburbs, you guys. Toilet paper is now exclusively available on a black market basis.

No Coronavirus symptoms at my house.  Nobody’s sick here, not a single symptom. But nerves are twitchy out there, and if you say you’ve been to another country, on a cruise ship, or in a large crowd at an entertainment theme park, people get alarmed. They give the side-eye. They subtly put on their masks. They cancel play dates and they rearrange appointments.

I’m not an alarmist, and I don’t have to stay home. Should and Could are two different words, though.

We have a sign on our refrigerator that reads simply: What does love require of you today? It’s our reminder to keep love first, to behave in ways that make other people feel most loved. Do the most loving thing always.

Should we stay home?  Not necessarily.  Could we stay home?  In the name of loving the people who are worried?  Sure we could.

And so, as the boys got ready for school this morning, it became clear to me: Love Requires us to Self Quarantine.

To be clear: We are fine. But our community is worried. So we can stay home for a few days.

In related news, this choice has allowed me to try my hand at homeschooling. This morning, we are reading The Outsiders and doing geometry. My children miss their friends, but they had no idea I could navigate books and angles.

If anyone needs us, we’ll be here washing our hands, loving you from a social distance. Please send toilet paper.


p.s. This weekend’s retreat of The Pen and The Page in Colorado Springs is ON.  Bring your pens and your notebooks, my friends.  Our weekend is sold out, and I’m told Glen Eyrie even has toilet paper.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Tricia, Michelle and I ran into each other (almost literally) at WalMart today! She reminded me of how we’d met, that we have you and Peter in common, and that she’d been a long time friend of Peter’s. We had a most wonderful chat right there in the middle of the aisle over all these things we agree about and my trip last week and her trip next week…and then we wished each other well and parted. And then found ourselves next to each other in matching checkouts at the self-checkout line. A little chatting again but not so much since we were both wonderfully task-oriented.
    That is, until I totaled my purchases ($53 and change) and discovered: I had not put my wallet in my pocket before I left home.
    Instant humiliation and images of having to shuffle over to the checkout supervisor guy with my head hanging in shame.
    But in the very nick of time and without hesitation, Michelle rushed over to my register and pushed her own card into the slow where my debit card was supposed to go! And just like that, she had paid for $53 in sundry Walmart kinds of things!!!
    I was so grateful. Had to convince her to give me her address so I can put a check in the mail TODAY.
    And also, I knew you would really, really want to know all of this. I am right.
    Aren’t I? You do, don’t you?

  2. Girl – this is another AWESOME READ! Thank you for always sharing your perspective – absolutely delightful! Glad you all took the trip, and drank the drinks, and took well-deserved time for yourselves as a family to enjoy one another. That is truly what this life is all about. Thank you for the reminder. And, have an awesome time at the Castle with a new writing family to bring under your wing. They will never forget it. I know I won’t…..

  3. Thanks, as always, Cutie, for insightful thoughts! We leave this week with our entire family (11) for a trip planned a year ago……my daughter called this morning and said: “Mom, we do not HAVE to go.” Are you kidding???? I am not living in fear of this… come? ‘Cause God IS in charge and yes, that means that we have responsibility to take precautions but ONWARD and I can’t wait!!

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