Under the Influence: Sometimes you have to pee in the yard

This new reality is interesting, scary, frustrating, exhausting and confusing

Today I peed in my parents’ backyard. Twice.

We were sitting on their front patio, enjoying happy hour, whilst social distancing (I brought my own cup from home and sat 6 feet away). I say “enjoying,” but the truth was, I was panicking. Because today I have a cough.

Liz Marsh

In happier times I would chalk it up to allergies. I would hardly have noticed a cough as I enjoyed time with my family.

But these are not the happy times.

I snuck away to the backyard because I am paranoid that I might pass this cough along. I am paranoid to go inside my parents house, to get too close or touch anything. It’s been nearly a week since I’ve been around other people, so chances are good that I’m healthy. But we’re not taking chances in these times.

Because these are not the happy times… they are the interesting times.

Interesting times mean that I spend a good deal of my day wondering if my shortness of breath is due to coronavirus or debilitating anxiety. It means that for the last week I have been screaming at my family to stay inside, wipe everything down and stay away from their neighbors. It means that I have been second-guessing everything I touch, every shared space I’ve breathed into, and every sneeze and sniffle I hear within 100 feet.

We are all living in this new reality, and it has been interesting. It’s also been scary, and frustrating, and exhausting, and most of all, confusing. I am never sure if I’m making a prudent decision, or overreacting. I feel as though I am constantly weighing social norms against obvious risks.

All I want is for someone to tell me what to do. I want someone to make decisions for me, relieve me of the burden.

Every day my family talks about what the rules are, what the experts say, and what we’re going to do as a group. We turn our decisions over and bounce them off one another. As though any of us have the answers.

Can the little kids see our parents? Probably not. Can we see each other? Only on the front porch from 6 feet away. Can we order food? We need to support local businesses! Fine. But wipe it down before you bring it in the house.

Every day is a nerve racking check-in. How does everyone feel? Has anyone been out recently? Did you hear about X, Y, Z?

The truth is that none of us know. We are all just making up rules to a game we didn’t sign up to play. We can only make the best decision in the moment, weigh the pros and cons, and hope for the best.

Sometimes our best is just to give each other some grace. To let each other cry and reassure each other that we’re making the best possible decisions to keep each other safe.

Sometimes it means peeing in the backyard until that pesky cough goes away.