The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 14

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CHRISTY RIPPEL is an award-winning freelance writer, covering lifestyle, design,
health and parenting. A VT graduate, she likes to bike and walk local trails. When
she and husband Chris aren't watching the Hokies, they watch their four kids
compete in sports. Christy is a Maryland native and lives in Roanoke County.

Weird Times

I H A D T H I S C O LU M N
finished and ready to submit to
my editor last week, the second
week of March. The magazine
business requires projecting life
two months in advance-we
are thinking about spring while
winter still has a firm grasp, and
so on. It's easy to do when life
follows predictable rhythms, but
that is not our reality right now.
When I re-read my column just a
week later, I knew I had to scrap
it and start over. My life-your
life-had changed drastically in
that week. The old concerns of
parenting no longer applied.
I went from driving everyone
in the minivan to their various
activities to a screeching halt on
life as we knew it. One by one,
the emails came in, canceling
ever ything. School, done.
Soccer, swimming lessons, art
class-all done. Then came the
directives on online learning and
homeschooling resources, and
with four kids in different grades, it was dizzying. But I was determined
to give it my best, and went out of the gate hard.
Day one, we killed it. Everyone at the table at 9 a.m., starting school
work. We went to the track for social distance fitness, and did art
projects. I fell asleep on the couch in my clothes that Monday night at
8:30, thoroughly exhausted, knowing I'd have to recalibrate and drop
the bar much, much lower. Like buried in the ground lower.
Tuesday through Friday was a mash-up of small victories and utter
defeats. The low point was when my 5th grader started body surfing the
dining room table (my new homeschool command center) and papers
went flying. I've learned that when bodies begin melting to the floor
or surfing the furniture, it's time to switch gears.
We piled into the minivan that day, and drove the Blue Ridge
Parkway. We stopped at a scenic overlook and the three younger kids
played on some rocks for over an hour. I watched them make up a game,
something about Indians and butterflies. My daughter ran to me, arms
out like an airplane. " Mom, look at me, I'm a butterfly flapping in the
wind, " she said, giddy as she turned her eight-year-old face to the sun,
eyes closed, completely in the moment.
14

MAY/JUNE 2020

I tried desperately to drop into
that moment with her, my adult
mind on overdrive. I managed it for
a few blissful seconds. Then I sat on a
blanket and stared at the mountains,
their unchanged peaks a welcome
sight, while change swirled around
me. It was the most peaceful moment
I've had since COVID-19 invaded
our lives.
I'm still getting used to our new
normal, which is one of those phrases
we're all using now. Social distancing,
flattening the curve, homeschooling,
coronavirus. These will be the buzzy
terms that define the first half of 2020.
At the Rippel house, we're figuring
out how to navigate life together as a
six-some, in what sometimes feels like
a crowded space. " Why are you so
CLOSE to me? " my teenager asked his
brother this morning, sneering before
scooting a few precious inches away
on the couch. It's a lot of togetherness.
I imagine we'll have more days of
wandering the Blue Ridge Parkway,
snaking slowly down winding country
roads, as the ingrained impulse to accomplish falls away a bit, and
blurs the days into a watery, slow moving time. We'll all be learning
to entertain ourselves and sit with discomfort, anxiety and change-
forced to accept that life is not a thing to be scheduled or controlled.
If you've never turned to poetry, you might consider it now. As a
Virginia Tech graduate and former English major, I love the work
of professor Nikki Giovanni. Download Love Poems & A Good
Cry and pop in some headphones when you need to hear a soothing
voice. One of Nikki's often cited quotes is: " Everything will change.
The only question is growing up or decaying. "
I hope we grow up and meet the challenges of these hard days. I
hope it changes us in some good ways while we collectively mourn
what's been lost. I hope you are wandering the roads aimlessly with
your small charges and noticing the gifts of spring, marveling at the
flowers that push out of the dirt, year after year. I hope you've lowered
the bar and given yourself grace.
And I hope, in two months' time when this column reaches you,
that we've all been able to stand near our friends again.
-CHRISTY RIPPEL

TheRoanoker.com

CHRISTY RIPPEL

We're in this together, even if we have to stand a p a r t .


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - May/June 2020

The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - 3
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The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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