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Taking a break from the new normal

By Stacie Chadwick

Reading between the Pines

I have a confession to make. It doesn’t involve holding a feature spot as perp of the day on, stealing the crust off my husband’s homemade pies or anything that would land me a lead role on Snapped. It’s actually pretty benign.

I’m on vacation.

As I write, I’m watching the sun rise over the ocean while waves crash below, taking more deep breaths than I have since March when the world as we knew it flipped on its axis and fell off a dramatically sheer cliff.

Admitting that our family has selfishly ignored safety precautions to take a break from the longest year in the history of ever feels like I’m exposing a dirty secret. Going on vacation shouldn’t be newsworthy, but in the middle of a pandemic, just about everything carries disproportionate load bearing weight.

Each day from his multi-screen command center formerly known as our living room, my husband takes Zoom call after Zoom call after … Zoom call. It’s like Groundhog Day meets Doomsday meets a table reading of The Office under the cloak of a salary cut that university employees across the globe have taken to prop up the flailing remote learning platform being undertaken by our higher education system. And speaking of remote learning, our kids are all home with their own challenges, unfiltered opinions and at least 100 lonely, unmatched socks.

We didn’t decide to go on vacation because we take this pandemic lightly. We took this trip because we’ve been living life so heavily. Multiple family members have already contracted COVID-19, and our middle child has real and pronounced long hauler symptoms. We have older parents in other states who are at-risk, we believe in wearing masks, and we care about the well-being of others, many of whom are struggling under devastating economic strain. And yet … here we are.

Maybe we just needed to feel the warm sun on our skin in a place that looks nothing like everyday life: to eat a little too much, drink a little too much…relax the travel rules we’ve so fastidiously followed in a dog year that feels like seven. Or maybe we believe that life is going to return to some semblance of normalcy in 2021, and we’re getting a head start. Or maybe we’re just human. Right now, the water’s warm, and in this brief moment, life feels normal. For better or for worse, we’ll take it.

To read more from Stacie, check out her blog at



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