In the summer of 2019, my daughter moved from our home in New York’s Hudson Valley to the other side of the country in Seattle, Washington. It was an exciting move, but also heart wrenching to have her so far away. While before she had rarely been much more than an hour’s drive away from us, now she was a day-long flight and three time zones behind us. We spoke and texted regularly and she came home for a visit that autumn, but she was also busy getting to know her new home.
As we all know, in March 2020 we had a worldwide pandemic, and everything shut down. Even the comforting knowledge that we could, if we wanted to, jump on a plane and see her within a day was gone. We had it easy compared to many and our life here in NY was tolerable, since we had each other and a big house and lots of outdoor space to roam in, but my daughter was mostly stuck in a tiny apartment where she now also had to work and spend most of her free time.
Digital communications became our lifeline. Beyond speaking and texting, we synchronized movie watching with our phones on, we celebrated holidays via Zoom, we did projects together via Facetime, she at times kept me on speaker in her pocket while in uncomfortable situations. When there was a lull in COVID cases that fall, she came home for a few weeks, but then things got bad again. I am so grateful that we were able to experience this pandemic at a time in history when communication is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but Zoom fatigue is real.
That’s why she gifted me a ticket for a flight to visit her in Seattle two weeks and a day after my second vaccine shot, late April, 2021. While she was excited to have me visit her in her new home, she wanted a break from the place she had spent most of her time over the previous year, so we rented a car and drove out to the rainforests and beaches of Olympic National Park.
Spending a few days together in a place where we had no internet reception after a year of little but internet communication was glorious. It was a wonderful place for our reunion as she and I have always preferred moody landscapes and dramatic skies to sunny spaces. We felt like we were inside one of our favorite fantasy novels. Because the pandemic was still happening our meals were limited to picnic tables or in our room at the lodge, but our days were spent exploring terrain that was so different from ours in NY and just being together, and that replenished our socially-distanced souls.
Thank you so much, Kirstin McKee, for noticing my Facebook plea to be held accountable for culling and editing photos from this trip! Offering me this guest post was more helpful than you can imagine.