I cried when my boss told me I had to go home in March of 2020. Not a lot, cause it’s me and I grew up with three brothers and you learn not to cry, so it was more like my eyes watered. It just felt so weird and scary to be told to take my laptop and whatever files I needed home because I literally wasn’t allowed to come back for a while.
By that time, there were only a couple of us left in the office anyway. One by one, my coworkers had trickled out that week. The whole thing seemed overblown and overly dramatic to me. *rolls eyes* Shit, I never get sick anyway. This is dumb, I thought as I gathered up my things, trying to think about what I might need to work from home for a week or two.
It’s funny now to think back on those first few weeks and months. When we thought this was all temporary and it would just take a month to “flatten the curve” and life would return to normal soon. Nearly every working mother I know was using the COVID lockdown to deep clean their homes room by room, organize drawers, clean out closets, and cook fancy meals they never had time to. Surely, life would be back to normal by summer, so may as well make use of this weird time, eh?
I truly think if we had a different president (oh, I don’t know like a competent woman named Hillary) we would’ve never even ended up going home in March. I don’t think the virus would’ve gotten here, let allow be allowed to run roughshod over the country while our leaders denied it’s existence, but we had a buffoon in the White House who made the entire situation exponentially worse for months on end until we finally voted his incompetent ass out of office and let the adults take charge.
100 days later, almost everyone I know and interact with are now fully vaccinated. Life has actually started to return to some semblance of normal. We are back to having small family and friend gatherings again. We’ve stopped obsessively applying antibacterial gel after going to any public place and wiping shit down with antibacterial wipes (OK, fine…I never did that…that really was stupid and so wasteful.) Lauren is going to have a prom (a weird one, but still) and an actual in-person graduation (outside, but still).
The work-from-home situation has worked out for a lot of us. There’s a lot to like. A 30-second commute to your home office or kitchen table or wherever you set up a workspace. No bras, makeup, pants, combed hair, showers, shoes, or lunch/coffee money required (I’ve probably saved $500 on coffee in the last year).
My pets/kids don’t care if I work in my jammy pants and a hoodie, reeking of chlorine with wet hair from an 11:30 lap swim at the Y. Or, if I run with friends at 7 a.m. and start work at 8 a.m. still a hot mess from a quick 4-miler. And, don’t even get me started on having our pets near/with us all day long. They’ve lived their best lives in the past year.
A year later, few are eager to race back to the 8-5 office life in dress pants with real buttons (OMG) and mascara and heels and specific lunch hours and the inability to throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher or put dinner in the oven between tasks.
But most of us will be heading back to our offices this summer as the COVID crisis subsides in the U.S. and more and more people get vaccinated. We’ll return to the building and offices we came from, lugging the files and equipment we, little by little, took home as we stopped back in to our offices briefly to pick up more things needed for the long haul — chairs, keyboards, monitors, standup desks, and more.
We’ll clear our bulletin boards of year-old notices and to-do lists. We’ll grin at our calendars, still turned to March of 2020 We’ll dust off — well, probably everything by now. We’ll toss out that chocolate stash in our lower drawer, if the mice haven’t already got to it. We’ll open the windows to let some fresh air into stale offices, heat/AC systems be damned. We’ll refill the office fridge with bottled water and salad dressing and coffee creamer.
We’ll forget what it was like to get up for work at 7:54 and still make it on time with a cup of hot coffee in hand.
There are a lot of things I’ll miss about working at home, but there are some things I look forward to in returning to the office. I wrote them down because some days I need a reminder to focus on the positive and that the work-at-home thing was always temporary and that I once cried because I wanted to go to the office every day.
A few things I’m looking forward to:
- Taking the tags off a year’s worth of Stitch fix clothing. I’m going to wear new stuff for WEEKS.
- Using the company’s printer ink and paper.
- Paper proofs. The biggest challenge for me at home has been proofreading publications. I’d rather see red pen on paper than try to decipher (and make) notes on PDFs and .JPGs.
- Weight loss. At work, there is zero temptation to snack all day. There’s no kitchen in my office. I will eat only what I bring and I’m waaaaay more virtuous in the morning.
- El Canelo lunches with coworkers. I miss my work friends and that questionable Mexican restaurant that we love to frequent.
- Picking brains without technology. It’s much easier to wander over to a coworkers office to get an opinion on something or chat at the water cooler about an upcoming project than it is to “bother” them with a zoom or phone call.
- In-person interviews. I can do interviews via email all day, but they almost always better when I do them in person.
- A bustling campus. One of the worst things about 2020, early 2021 has been an eerily empty campus. It’s creepy AF. Like winter or spring break, but it’s been a year…and it weird and I want them back — the energy, the life, the noise. I’ll take all of it, even if it means a shitty parking spot and a 10-minute wait when trying to leave campus at class change.
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.