Oh how we miss our lives before. Will they ever be the same again?
There’s a blazer hanging in my closet. I sewed it myself. Fellow blazer friends of it also hang nearby, they were also made by me. I wore a blazer (with jeans or a dress or skirt) every day, for my work-from-home, work-from-coffee-shop, work-from-client-office life. I’ve worked from home for half my professional career, save about 15 years when I owned a building in a “trendy” gentrifying neighborhood. I’m a work-from-home pro. Up until March, I still wore the blazer. But right now, none of us need that blazer hanging in our closets.
What did we lose along with the blazer-wearing meetings? We lost interactions with our “third place” coffee shop staff and regular customers. I wonder how Larry, the elderly single gentleman who frequented my favorite coffee shop, is doing now. Larry and I saw each other three times a week or more, through three owners of one coffee shop, before they closed and we both moved our third place to another coffee shop nearby.
We lost driving to out of town meetings (or flying to conferences) to engage with clients, feel the energy of colleagues and learn.
We lost sending our kids off to school, running to catch up with their friends, before Mrs. Sara walked them across the crosswalk. I lost hearing the bell ring and the delightful cacophony of an elementary school that I can hear from my back deck.
We lost being home when our middle schooler unlocked the door and dropped her backpack in the front hall. We lost racing off to hockey practice, getting home to make dinner at 8pm.
Our future is unknown. But here’s what we gained in the process:
Our kids are safe at home. We have played many games of Monopoly and Clue, checkers, backgammon and Slamwich. We have baked many batches of brownies and cookies. We’ve moved our house around to accommodate two reluctant home learners, and two busy (and equally reluctant) homeschool parents. We bought a WiFi mesh router to extend our network to the far reaches of our house and deck.
We gave up the blazers for Zoom sweaters and Zoom shirts. I even have Zoom hair!
There’s a blazer hanging in my closet. It is waiting for the return of meetings, of parent council meetings, the coffee shop work sessions. The blazer in my closet is waiting for me to put on jeans (fixed waist pants? Haven’t done that in six months.) The blazer in my closet is waiting for normal.
I’m not sure we get to normal in 2020 at all. Maybe not even 2021. And if the blazers sit that long, will I even want to wear them?
The blazer sits, and while it does I change my business. I lean in to product development, so I can sell things online to people anywhere. I lean into marketing tech training, and I work with clients everywhere but here. The blazer might not even need to come out of the closet with my new business. I love my new ideas, forged even before the pandemic, honed by the changes in life and business along the way.
But I still want to visit the coffee shop, it’s noisy mass of mobile humanity. I still want to work to the hum of the espresso machine every now and again. I still want to ride my bicycle around town, the blazer flying out behind me as I cruise to the post office, all those online commerce packages behind me on the rack.
The blazer in my closet represents normal. It represents work, purpose, and fulfillment; something I’ve always defined as a professional career. I spend much of my time with my kids now, where blazers aren’t required. I love my kids. I miss who I was, the woman in the blazer, jetting off to a conference, checking the departures board.
There’s a blazer in my closet. And I miss it.