Fall. My favorite season of the year. Even though we now live in a state where fall just means a relief from 90 degree weather, brown crinkly leaves instead of bright colors, and a temporary truce with the mosquitoes.
Not this one, though. I dread the crisp temperatures. The school season. This fall feels like we’re living in some dystopian novel, and we’re all just waiting for the next plot twist that happens after people crowd close together inside schools and restaurants.
The headlines keep coming. With them comes the knowledge that thousands of people are hurting, worried, and stressed. Thousands more are sick. More are dying or dead. At some point I start tuning out because of compassion overload. Not because I don’t care, but because I literally have no cares left to give after this brutal spring and summer.
My bucket of compassion is empty. Drained, by the sheer weight of human tragedy and the constant reminders that I am expendable to everyone around me. Knowing that people consider my life a good trade-off for their right to go out for dinner is … traumatic.
And then, there’s the politics. I hate an election year anyway, but this one has been especially frustrating. Do I trust that my absentee vote will be counted, or do I trade off the risk of catching Covid with the certainty of voting in person? Stress, on a countdown timer ticking away constantly, wearing grooves in my anxiety.
Normally, in an election year, I would tie it into our schoolwork, teaching how the government works. This year, I’m avoiding it. They don’t need to deal with the mess our system has become. My initial brief thought of having the kids watch the first presidential debate died even before the words “will you shut up, man?”
Normally we would be studying wildfires. Learning about them, tracking them on a map, watching videos of the firefighters at work. Not this year. It seems too much, too overwhelming.
My biggest struggle is trying to inject some sense of normalcy into our lives. School is helping with that – math is eternal, pandemic or not. It’s still not enough – the kids are having more meltdowns than usual, over seemingly minor issues.
I have never, in my entire adult life, wanted so desperately to move somewhere else. Somewhere away from this nightmare of failing democracy, where common sense and science ruled the pandemic response. A pipe-dream – no country in their right mind would want Americans right now.
No, we’re not living in a dystopian novel. We’re living in a horror movie. The suspense is dreadful, and the characters are doing all the predictable things that puts them at risk for the killer to strike.
Adults aren’t supposed to have temper tantrums, but I’m feeling a kinship with toddlers right now. What’s next? Zombies?