PALMYRA, N.J. (AP) – I just wanted to be home. To sleep in my bed, cook in my kitchen and greet my husband after work.
I cried a lot. I gained 10 pounds. I even started to get dry, itchy patches on the bridge of my nose and eyelids that I blamed for the air quality in Newark, the train exhaust on the PATH platform, the stinky, hot steam coming out of Lower Manhattan sewer grates flowed.
I worked in New York City, but lived just outside of Philadelphia in South Jersey and influenced every other aspect of my life. Why not my skin?
I just wanted to be home.
In September 2018, my editorial position in Philly de Turnpike went up. Commute or leave. Work in “the other city” or quit the job at my dream company. It was the easiest and most difficult choice I have ever had to make.
To relieve the stress and finances of a commuting on the marathon, I stayed in the spare room of two selfless friends and their two lovely children in North Jersey. There I had my own room – damn, my own floor. Their freezer was filled with my trader Joe’s meatballs. My Mazda was in their driveway.
They made me feel at home. But I was not at home. Most nights I would stay at work later, so I didn’t come back to their home during the family period.
Like I said, I just wanted to be home. And on Friday I race back to my husband. This was my life for almost 15 months.
Last November, after months of interviews and impatient waiting, I got a promotion. A promotion that took me back to Philadelphia just steps from my house, my bed, my couch, my husband.
I have what I wanted. I was at home.
And just a few months later I got more at home than I asked for, more at home than I expected. It took a pandemic.
I’ve been home since December, but I’ve been home since March 15. This also applies to my husband. We decided that his job at a supermarket, while essential, was not essential to us. So he took time off.
Not only do I sleep in my own bed every night, I cook every meal in my kitchen. I am allowed to do yoga in my own yoga room and even lead a daily session for my colleagues. Trader Joe’s meals are in my own freezer. My car is in my own driveway.
And I do it all with my husband. Every day all day.
I cook, he cleans. I feed the cats in the morning, he takes the evenings. Dinners are eaten together, walks are taken together. We point out the most beautiful houses with the landscape we wanted. Often we walk the same route to see if the dogs we pet through fences are outside.
Our family and friends are just minutes away from each other. Every now and then we put garden chairs or blankets in front of their houses for weekend afternoon visits.
Sometimes we stop at our houses on our walks and say goodbye to them knowing I don’t have to wait a whole week to see them again.
My husband installed my small library, an outdoor bookcase painted in the same colors as our house. Every day I check for new entries, I happily bounce around the house to tell him what’s new and what’s been borrowed.
Of course we have our time alone. But we have it together. A Post-it hangs on my computer monitor, written by him during the first few weeks of quarantine, when I was not doing very well. “We are together and we are safe.”
The second half has been true for a while. But the first half is finally true again.
Virus Diary, an incidental feature, shows the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. See previous entries here. Follow AP News Editor Christina Paciolla on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cpaciolla
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