At 9:00 pm, I received a text from my husband. Our son needs to be home by Friday before the European Corona Virus travel ban begins.
For years, I pushed our children to explore the world, study abroad, expand horizons. Our youngest finally did by participating in a Transitional Economies course, which included a week in the Czech Republic, visiting corporations, attending lectures, and sightseeing.
I hadn’t fallen for the COVID-19 hype—I had an adequate amount of toilet paper, plenty of bleach, and an extra bottle of Dawn Ultra with 50% less scrubbing and 3x the grease cleaning power—until my child was about to be stuck in Europe for a month.
As an experienced traveler, I hopped on the internet and within a minute, acquired the ticket he needed. But the date was incorrect. Ugg. No problem, I bought him a second ticket one minute later only to discover he’d been waitlisted. Wait. What? No. NO. NO!
I felt my hands began to tremble, just a little. I called the airline: “We are experiencing higher than normal call volumn.” I fumbled with my computer mouse. My clicks weren’t connecting as panic slowly started to bubble inside. I Googled the airline for information. Nothing. I called another number. Busy. I felt myself falling apart until a little voice said, Alison. Stop. Breathe.
So I did. One inhale in. One slow exhale out. A few calmer clicks later, my world traveler was booked and on his way to the airport.
When I look at the craziness all around me: schools closing, markets falling, baseball postponing the season, I imagine this is what pandemonium looks like. I realize it doesn’t take much to be swept up by hysteria—regardless of how much toilet paper I have. I will count myself lucky that I have that little voice to remind me to breathe, to recalibrate.
As everything seems to fall apart around me, I am going to make one simple suggestion to the world: let’s give ourselves a pause. Let’s stop and breathe. Really, it’s quite amazing what a slow inhale and exhale can accomplish. Now, where is hand sanitizer?