By Amy Coward
When I came home from work a couple of months ago, I washed my thermos and stared at it. I wondered how long it would be before I needed it again. Apparently, I would be working at home for an indefinite time, something I hadn’t done since my children were young.
My first thought was how productive I could be. Although I would be working from home, surely there would time between calls or online meetings to get a few things done around the house. I could clean closets and plant spring flowers, maybe learn Italian or figure out all the apps on my iPhone. I was going to Get. Things. Done.
I started off strong by cleaning all my kitchen cabinets top to bottom. I organized cookware, threw out old staples and even alphabetized my spices. I was on a roll. I then started on my bedroom closet. I tried to channel Marie Kondo as I examined my clothes and looked at them one by one. Unfortunately, I was not as brutal as she is known to be. My closet is still full. I looked through photos and thought about how to categorize them – by child, by season or by activity. But mostly, I just looked at them and reminisced. I cried a little and ultimately put them back in a pile in the box.
This was not working out as planned. I was taking one step forward and two steps back every day. And the days were flying by. I thought I would have all this time for extravagant projects. But work meetings continued to be scheduled all throughout the day. And the “ding” from my email system constantly reminded me that I had work to do.
I watched in wonder at all the creative ways people were filling their time. If you looked on social media or the evening news, there were families creating a Coronavirus song to a tune from Les Mis or whipping up exotic Middle Eastern dishes for dinner that would shame any chef. I was completely envious. All my goals, all my aspirations, all those apps on my iPhone I have no idea how to use were eluding me.
Ten weeks later, I am heading back to the office. My thermos is filled with coffee. I have on real work clothes again. I even have on makeup and jewelry. And even though I’ve missed my comfortable, ergonomically correct office chair oh so much, I have mixed feelings. I am certain an opportunity has been missed. There is so much I have not accomplished.
My projects will have to remain on the back burner – again – for now. Those closets, those foreign language lessons, that gardening will surely be there when I have free time again. Maybe when I’m retired, I’ll give them another try.
For now, it’s time for my commute – a little longer than the one-minute walk to the dining room I’ve enjoyed these last few weeks. A day of work awaits.
At least I’ve got my coffee, my mask, my hand sanitizer and the comfort of knowing my spices are alphabetized and ready when I am.
Amy Coward is a public relations professional in Columbia, SC. When she is not managing the madness of event planning at Prisma Health Midlands Foundation, she is writing, running and traveling.