I feel envy for those who, presented with something new, quickly land on a position and seem confident in their choice. It happens to me occasionally, but usually I have to flipflop around like a fish out of water, until I either land on a position or put it off for later. I have many opinions and beliefs about things, it’s just that they can be contradictory.

Since the start of the pandemic I’ve felt this nagging need to do something, anything, but I haven’t known quite what, beyond hunkering down. Maybe most of us are in this position, but what gets my attention are the big moves: people who relocate to be close to family, become nomads in an RV or an exotic destination, divorce, start a singing duo with a new romantic partner (this is a subset of the divorcing group). I don’t think I want to do any of these things (though I’m told I have a great voice and can carry a tune), but it’s more the certain, bold decisiveness I sometimes wish were more me.

As the lockdown has worn on, tensions have risen, maybe nowhere more than with the debate about opening the schools. On the one hand, the US seems to have put more money and effort into reopening bars and restaurants than getting kids back into in-person school, which seems a symptom of our society-wide lack of support for children and families. Some other countries seem to have done it better. Yet everyone I know in the schools has been working like mad to try and make distance learning work, and to try and navigate state, county, and city health rules to find a way forward. The school superintendent faces fractious and contradictory demands of wildly different parties, and I think the direction of our society and the restrictions that trickle down are largely outside the control of local officials.

I see the point of most sides. A small group protesting a few kids returning to school were yelling about dead teachers at kindergartners; that seems pretty clearly evil and/or moronic. But generally I know and love people who hold many different opinions.

But our combative, unpleasant national mood has landed on all of us, so discussing any of this feels like a minefield. We’re the inheritors of “you’re with us or you’re against us,” and it’s toxic. I want to be with everyone, and I want us all to talk to each other and disagree civilly.

And then there’s this: I don’t think we can fully know the right thing to do, in the moment. We spent months handwashing and sanitizing, before realizing that it’s the airborne particles we should worry about. We want to keep to the rules, but it’s so easy to rationalize that people we know are safe and known, when viruses are a numbers game, no more.

Another lockdown is about to go into effect in the Bay Area. It was announced by the State, strengthened by the county and city (both of which have health departments). There are a lot of cooks, and some of it is confusing. Parks and outdoor spaces are open but playgrounds are closed, for instance. But for the most part it’s clear: non essential gatherings of people inside or outside must stop for a month. No Hannukah or Christmas dinners with friends anywhere but Zoom. No distanced hikes or walks or meals with anyone outside your household. No outside dining (we’ve only done it twice). Grocery shopping is restricted to 20% capacity allowed inside stores. Schools and childcare are allowed to continue.

As different rules and interpretations floated around I felt myself flip and flop, trying to figure out if it’s right, if it’s fair, exactly how it will affect us. Truthfully we’re pretty locked down already, only a few socially distanced things will change for how we’ve been living. I’ve debated and wrestled, and now settled and calmed. I’m certain we’re in this together, by ourselves but also part of this big messy collective, doing our best with the inconsistent, imperfect rules, and our inconsistent, imperfect selves. We want to protect each other, and will each do our best to hunker and keep safe.

Everyone take care out there!