Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Inside you the time moves and she don't fade

Yesterday I had to be in my office in Center City by 9, which I've had to do somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 times since I started working down there in 2008. 

I was up and out by 6:35 since I was driving in from the shore. About 40 minutes from the office I realized I didn't have my access card that gets me on the building elevator and into our office. I got assistance on both, and reassurance from a partner letting me in that I was not the first one to do this by far this week. 

I went out and got lunch, which I've really missed doing in the city. I needed more than lunch so I decided on DiBruno, where I would pick an odd or end up at pretty much weekly for 12 years. I overshot it by a full block before realizing I went too far. 

Back in the office with a borrowed key card, I stowed my DiBruno stuff in the fridge, finished a project, and headed out. Forgetting my DiBruno stuff and unable to retrieve it because of the aforementioned forgotten key card. Everyone had left after the meeting so no one was in the office to let me back in, and my borrowed key card needed to stay in there so out meant out.

I was back at the shore by 4:25. Exhausted. Wrung out spent from doing not even a quarter of a routine I did weekday daily for 12 years before corona hit. Not even a train involved here. Which strikes me as absurd. 

It reminded me of a line from Jane Eyre which I think of often - "I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon." Jane is speaking of an instantaneous tiring of the spirit, emotions and mind in regard to routine; but yesterday tired meant actually physically tired in my reference. I am a person who likes and thrives in routines, which is why the plunge into Coronaland was so hard for me mentally last year despite having no actual hardships compared to what other people were dealing with. I just never paused to consider how much energy expenditure my daily routine required and how much dips back into it would cost after an extended period of de-programming. 

All that to say it's not easy to return to even a well established routine when you have spent over 18 months trying a bunch of new ones on for size. We don't have a return to office and will likely continue operating as we have, going in when needed for a meeting, etc. We were not five days in the office, and we won't return close to it. I'm thankful for that, because going in now requires preparation and thought than it never has and that feels shitty like an elementary thing I should be better at. 

To anyone struggling to adapt once again to a back in full time, a new hybrid schedule, another office opening delay, kids back in school, new job or home, new boundaries set to protect your energy, or something just entirely different for you, give yourself some grace and extend kindness to yourself and others. Life is a big rolling adjustment period. 

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