On Being Home 2: Covid Edition

On Being Home 2: Covid Edition

Well it’s been just about a month since we got home from our epic family adventure to Hawaii.

Even though it’s been a while since I stood on the side of the Piilani Highway, feeling like we had reached a new pinnacle in our adventuring career, I’m sitting here at my office staring out at the steady thrum of cars and trucks motoring along the New Jersey Turnpike, with a strange feeling of unreality.

I just wanna see some paaaaaaalm trees.

In a lot of ways, it feels a lot like when we got back from New Zealand. Similarly, our depression over the end of our trip, quickly transitioned into an obsession with just wanting to get home to our beds. We even spent a night in California on our way back, just like on our return journey from Middle Earth five years ago.

This time though, within two days of being home, Jacob and I both started feeling a little off. At first I thought it was just jet lag, but our third day back his temperature had spiked to 104, and he was positive for Covid. I was about 12 hours behind him, and while I never really had a fever, I definitely felt like I did, with chills and shakes like I haven’t had in years.

He was better within about 24 hours (really his fever broke that night thankfully, and was just hovering around 100 the following day when his medicine would wear off) and I’m pretty much back to normal, but having Covid before I was even able to get over my jetlag added even more of an unreality to being back that I’m still not totally past even now, about a month after seeing my last palm tree.

For much of Memorial Day Weekend, I was pretty much confined to our living room, laying on the couch and finishing up the Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, which I was also reading while we were away. In a very bizarre way, it was almost like the trip continued into our house. Rather than going back from the adventure travel protocol I’ve talked about before, and reverting to the reality of waking up in my normal bed, having my usual breakfast, and going on with my usual day, it was like I went from the unreality of long-distance air travel to a different (and far more miserable) unreality.

Maybe if I close my eyes and think hard about this place, when I open them I’ll be there?

Maybe it was the virus scrambling my brain, or maybe it was too much thinking about Improbability Drives and the like, but I had the distinct feeling as I was reading, that if I put the book down and looked out the window, I would see the gentle slopes of Lana’i island, instead of my awful neighbor’s house with the collapsed deck and garbage visible through their windows.

Then, because of the isolation (I was trying not to give Ariel the virus), at night I was in a different room/bed than I was used to. So waking up in the morning also provided me with a bizarre unreality of not even being totally sure where I was. All magnified by the virus misery.

Finally now, both the virus and the trip are starting to fade from my consciousness. Like I wrote when we got back from New Zealand – everything around me feels different because I’ve changed as a result of my experiences. But it’s not just me – our entire family dynamic is a little different. We have shared adventure travel experiences. Unlike last time when it was just Ariel and I, this time we had my father and Jacob with us. Anytime we are together driving on some crazy winding road, we’ll be taken back to the Road to Hana. Next time we go to the bamboo forest at Rutgers Gardens, we’ll all be able to feel like for a moment we’re “LOST” on Oahu again.

And like last time, while I’m sitting here at my desk typing as the Turnpike hums along below my building, I think again about the road.

The Road. This time in Maui along the “forbidden” Piilani Highway.

Even though I’m back home for now… the road goes ever on and on…

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