You know what’s total garbage? I’m self-imposing a week-long break from running. It’s not just garbage: it’s hot, reeking, cartoon-style-green-fumes garbage. Motivated by a healthy concern for a minor but persistent pain in one of my feet, and nervous about having waited too long before I finally switched running shoes, I figure it’s better to take a week off now when I’m only running a few miles at a time than be forced to sit down in a few months when I’m comfortably knocking out ten.

This is garbage because running has been such a welcome constant and a good kind of challenge. It’s felt good, physically and mentally, to get out there and pound the pavement four days a week. I’ve replaced stressful data (How many confirmed cases are there now? How long until I pay off my credit card? Will I ever be able to move into my own place?) with good numbers (I’ve ran X number of miles this week, and my pace has increased by this much).

It’s strange to consider the living conditions of my family on the West coast against life here in Alabama, mid-pandemic. While urban areas such as the one my family lives in feel the pressure of denser populations causing severe strains on their healthcare systems, things feel awfully more like we’re dealing with only a minor inconvenience over here. My house is continuing to play host to a revolving door of non-residents, and I’ve never considered putting gloves on before touching a gas pump. The attitude everywhere here is more blasé than how I hear it is from the reports I’m getting out of Riverside.

Back home, my parents wave to their grandchildren from the car instead of smothering them with kisses. My mom immediately changes her clothes every time she returns to the house. I don’t know the last time my dad saw someone other than my mom. Parks are closed and a lot of people wear masks even to go exercising.

On the one hand, I feel guilty because life is much freer here, and I consider how we should all be doing more to tighten up. On the other, I understand that Alabama just has a lighter population density than California, and so the spread will be different here and that’s why so many people are taking a lighter approach. It’s not that perfectly reasonable people are demanding the immediate and full return to life as it was, and I’m lucky I’m generally surrounded by people who make smart choices. But. The differences of life in the two states (California and Alabama) are especially stark right now, and I feel for those living in a different reality back home.

It’s tricky for anyone to sift through all the information – good or bad – readily available at our finger tips, and it’s too easy to get lost in the avalanches of information that, even when accurate, harms our mental well-being. And it’s important, I think, to check our biases as we receive and process information. If we desperately don’t want our freedom to visit our friends’ houses to diminish, we’ll find ways to justify that behavior. Conversely, I find myself disinterested in participating in parts of my old life due to reasons unrelated to the pandemic, and therefore find it easy to justify disengagement in the name of health, or whatever.

Navigating life right now is tough, and made more so by a job hunt that began months before this all hit. There’s a hyper-sensitive balance between being vocal about my intention to change careers, and reminding my work that I enjoy working there and would like to continue to do so.

While I lean towards the preference of being overly cautious than risk unknowingly spreading a deadly virus, I simultaneously feel a pang of sympathy for those morons begging for the economy to reopen. As ill-informed as they are, I think their fit-throwing is motivated by a desire to socialize and be around people again. It’s hard to see the seriousness of the virus when you don’t know anyone who’s fought it tooth and nail. It’s hard to understand why the loss of your income – and your livelihood – should take a backseat to any other concern. I actually get it.

And then I’ll read a story about some otherwise healthy parent who died and no one knows why.

Then I’m angry all over again at how this virus has been mishandled not only by the government, but by regular people who aren’t taking concerns seriously because a few nuggets of information they warp into a “not-that-bad” outlook that’s much more preferential than to be told they’re wrong.

And then I remember how ready I am to move onto the next big thing, wherever that may be.

And it makes me want to go for a run.


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