Last week I went back to Arizona to see my family. Fucking finally. This trip was supposed to happen over the holidays, but my whole family in AZ, seriously, the lot of them, tested positive for COVID less than twenty-four hours before we were supposed to fly out. We had already checked-in for the flight and pulled the suitcases up out of the garage. It was so disappointing. My husband and I debated for an hour whether there was some way, any way, some sort of hidden loophole, that would let us see them them, but if there’s one thing that’s clear two years into pandemic living, it’s that you can’t fly to the COVID. My daughter sobbed for hours. Not too long ago, I would have cried too, but my own tears don’t flow like they used to since I started taking an SSRI in October. These days, my intense emotions manifest more often as exhaustion. We spent the week between Christmas and New Year at home. I’d already taken the time off of work and I slept in every day. We played a lot of video games on the Nintendo Switch my husband managed to snag at the last minute from a GameStop at the mall.
It’s possible my lack of emotional response was not entirely due to the meds. It’s possible that after two years of tragedy, I recognize missing out on a family holiday for what it is: not that big a deal. At least my family’s still alive. Not for any great amount of trying on their part. When they all came down with COVID, it came out that adults in my family had passed on vaccinating large swaths of their eligible children, and not one single member of my family (aside from my husband and myself) had gone in for a booster. It’s hard to cry over disappointments that don’t rise to the level of tragedy, especially if they were preventable.
It’s also possible that after two years of tragedy, I no longer recognize trauma with a “little t”. So we haven’t seen my husband’s family in over three years. So my parents are getting old. So my grandma’s hearing is so bad we can barely talk on the phone. So my conversations with my brother are reduced to arguments about the vaccine. So my daughter is growing up without her grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. So whatever sense of community we once had fell apart and all of us (husband, daughter, me) are still trying to figure out how to cope with the social-emotional fallout of isolation. Maybe these are all tragedies and I’m too tired to cry.
We finally made it back to Arizona as a family last week. The two year anniversary of shut down came and went while we were out of state. When I realized we’d missed the date, I couldn’t believe it. How could my body let me move on without acknowledging everything we’ve lost? Well it didn’t. I came back to this space to write about our most recent trip to Arizona, but the only words I could find were for the trip we didn’t take.