Syncing is when I finally manage to step back from my life for a moment and take a big picture look at what is happening. As in, stop quilting Maria, and take a look around.
This is almost always an airplane moment.
I knew this year was going to be a tough schedule all the way around, and then it got serious. The details go like this.
Son #1 and Son #2 are graduating from college and high school this spring. While we do know that they will graduate, we are not so sure about the ceremonies. Moments and milestones are being cancelled all over the world. What event will you not being taking pictures of?
I have a solo exhibition at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. That experience has been exhilarating, intimidating, and humbling all at the same time. Work. Work. Work.
The Wrangell Mountains Center, a non-profit arts, science, educational institution that I serve as a board member for, has been without an Executive Director since early August. This means the board has been serving as the ED for many months now.
All board members have been pitching in as we can. This means almost daily tasks for me, for others it has become an almost full time job.
It has definitely been “a what does not kill you will make you stronger” moment. I love this organization and the community it serves. I also love my fellow board members. It is like we said I DO, and we are keeping our vows.
My teaching and lecturing schedule looks down right daunting on paper.
But I have been keeping on— parenting, stitching, and volunteering.
And then a bug got loose, and it all kind of feels like maybe.
Who knows? Apparently, no one at all.
So we do our best to navigate a landscape thick with the unknown.
Yesterday, I was supposed to embark on a three-week long trip.
The plan was to teach for the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild in California, and then fly to Ontario, Canada to teach for The York Heritage Quilt Guild and the Ancaster Modern Quilt Guild. Tucked in the middle of all this teaching, I was going to attend the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference in Toronto.
About a week ago, The SAQA conference transformed into a virtual event. This is when the Coronavirus became a reality for me. Has it become a reality for you?
I cancelled a lecture along with my hotel reservation for the conference and booked two new flights. Essentially breaking up my long trip into two short trips. More time in planes, but also more time at home.
Every day, I watch the map of the United States get redder and redder as each state grapples with the spread of the virus.
I get phone calls and texts and emails. Here are a few snippets.
“Would you like to teach for us in two weeks? One of our teachers just cancelled because of the bug.”
“Are you sure you still want to come? We are totally disinfecting the entire classroom.”
“I don’t know what the big deal is. It is just a virus. We deal with the flu every year. I don’t think there is any reason for you to change your plans.”
“You have been upgraded to first class.” (Cause you know, nobody is flying but fools.)
How to decide?
I am healthy. I must travel to do my job. I signed a contract.
My sons are now all getting at least two weeks off for spring break. Maybe more, maybe what? We just don’t know.
And so yesterday, I sat on an airplane headed towards Los Angeles via Seattle. I will be here for just a few days, and then I fly home to Anchorage. The airport was very quiet. Each traveler aware of what we cannot see.
The status quo reeks of industrial disinfectant.
I just touched my eye. I just reprimanded myself for doing so.
The things we take for granted in this wide world of hyper connection.
In ten days, I fly to Toronto. Or will I? Will I change my mind? Or will someone else do it for me?
I am playing chicken with a pandemic.
My biggest fear is being quarantined away from home. When I say that, I am really saying my biggest fear is being stranded in a foreign land without a sewing machine.
In the sky, somewhere near Seattle. I clasp my scrubbed down hands and hope for the best.
I land. We shop amoung empty aisles.
We stand six feet apart, and try to follow the rules even though it feels like they were invented yesterday.
This entire essay may be in need of an edit. It is my past, present, and future all at once. And things are just changing to darn quickly for me to keep up. I imagine with the latest news from Canada that I will be flying home and staying home for a good little while. I hope you all are safe out there.