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I’m rifling through my jewelry armoire in search of my pearls, a college graduation gift from my parents that rarely see the light of day. But, I’m digging them out in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and election day.

I find the long velvet box behind a couple of white silk boutonnieres and long pins. I remember buying them, it seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only last September.  After waiting too long to get a boutonniere for Lauren’s homecoming date, I found the simple, silk roses at Hobby Lobby.

I threw four in my basket, figuring I’d need them for future formal dances. Two girls. Two more years of school. There would be more homecomings and proms, you know.

Ha. Joke was on me.

There were no more formal dances. I doubt there will be anymore before Lauren graduates. I’m not sure there will be a “normal” graduation. That looks more and more unlikely every day.

Nothing is normal anymore.

What is normal, anyway?

I put the pearls on under my hoodie as I commute upstairs to start work. They feel cold, hard, foreign around my neck. I can’t remember the last time I wore a necklace. I can’t remember the last time I wore anything other than workout clothes or casual clothes. Jeans and a sweater is the most dressed up I’ve been since March, when I was sent to work at home.  I’ve not been back to work in my office since then.

I voted two weeks ago. I filled out a paper ballot and dropped it off in a mailbox on the steps of the county courthouse, while wearing a mask. I could never have imagined doing that 18 months ago.

I could never have imagined that I’d never need those silk roses. That I’d only see my coworkers virtually. That my daughter would start her freshman year of college on a laptop in her bedroom. That I’d have to wear a mask everywhere I go. That I’d accent my Turkey Trot hoodie and yoga pants with pearls.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.