This year was shaping up to be a run one. That was our view just a few weeks ago.
Just as news of COVID-19 was starting to increase in the states, J and I headed to a nearby town for a weekend away. We were in the middle of planning an early summer holiday in England and France. The plane tickets had been bought weeks and weeks before, but the busyness of daily life had gotten in the way of getting to the details. Our weekend away essentially consisted of hopping from coffee shop to restaurant to coffee shop to park with laptops and notebooks in hand, mapping out our days, saving AirBNBs, and tracking flights and trains between cities. Over the next few days, we booked flights and stays and found ourselves with a fully fledged holiday to await. At the same time, we were spending Sundays talking to my siblings about Atlanta, where we were going for their birthdays to watch Hamilton. Even though we were monitoring the health situation pretty carefully, at this point (in early March) we still felt relatively confident that our trips would go ahead as planned.
Now, at the end of March, we’re faced with the very real fact that those trips are cancelled. Hamilton has been rescheduled for later this year. New York (our gateway to London) is all but locked down. Even were we able to get to England and France, so many of the attractions we hoped to enjoy would likely be shut down that it would be a far different trip. The AirBNBs are refundable. We’ve already received notices that we can get travel vouchers for our flights. Even so, one of us will occasionally say something along the lines of, “We should sit down and decide when we want to go on our trip now,” but there’s no real conviction. We know it will likely be next summer before we’re able to go, but neither of us really want to sit down and make the changes. It’s a touch too final. Maybe the hope and dream of looking forward to it is worth something during this weird time, even if that dream is dead. What if we woke up one morning and, miraculously, it was all over? Wouldn’t that be beautiful? And wouldn’t that be worth waiting to the last minute to reschedule? I think so. For weeks and weeks of being stuck mostly indoors to be punctuated with long, lovely strolls through Monet’s gardens; for months of fasting (okay, only homecooked meals) to be broken by buttery croissants from a French cafe; for a time of great stress and worry to melt away with one bite of a delightful cookie from Ben’s.
We all long for miracles. We want the inexplicably good to happen. We want odds to be defied and statistics to be undone. We want our hopes to be rewarded.
All the realists in the room are probably up in arms right about now. J would be. You’re thinking that I’m setting myself up for failure, that I’m only going to be disappointed. You’re probably right that I’ll be wrong. And yes, I’ll be disappointed. But disappointed does not mean broken. And disappointed doesn’t mean I won’t set myself up for the same the next time something unforeseen happens.
I think hope, even in the seemingly impossible, is one of the things that keeps us going. Keeps us thriving. Only with hope do we continue to evolve.
So, I’ll hope that, by some miracle, I’m strolling around Paris in two months time, even while knowing that I likely won’t be.