Shelter In Place

I’ll start by saying this is crazy. The world has taken a very strange turn and life as we all know it has come to a screeching halt. Over the last couple days I’ve noticed that I’ve been really drawn to the in depth personal stories being written. It is a way to reach out to people during this weird time. Whether it’s a close friend, or a random person I follow, or a friend of a friend - I’ve been really interested to read, watch, and listen to what everyone else is going through in this unprecedented time. Some people are leaning on humor, some are struggling, some are prepared, some are even in denial. I though I’d take some time to write down my thoughts while this story continues to write itself.

The “shelter in place” has been issued where I live (Downtown San Jose, California) for the whole San Francisco Bay Area starring today, at 12:01 on March 17th, 2020.

I like to consider myself a realist with a strong shot of pessimism. While I am not a “prepper”, I did keep myself informed on what was happening around the world over the past couple weeks and made sure to try to stock my fridge and pantry before the crowds of people realized this was happening. I tried to be a step ahead but was overwhelmingly confronted with uncertainty 2 days ago when realizing a mandated order was coming SOON.

The “shelter in place” has been issued where I live (Downtown San Jose, California) for the whole San Francisco Bay Area starring today, at 12:01 on March 17th, 2020. You can’t see me crying as I write this but March 17th is not only significant because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s my daughter Rylie’s second birthday.

Last year we had a huge birthday party. Like stupidly huge. Like ice cream food truck at a brewery with everyone we know huge. Of course, Rylie doesn’t and won’t  remember it and I know she won’t remember this year either... but I will. Actually I think we all are going to remember this year. It’s difficult and beautiful to watch things be so drastically different from one year to the next. Rylie now can blow out the candles on her own. She can sing Happy Birthday (and does every single night to each one of our neighbors the Matson’s, which is weird). Rylie now has opinions, she has strong feelings, she can count to 10, she can spell her name, she has wild hair like her mom, she has sweaty feet like her dad, she has a compassionate heart and most importantly she has a good arm. But... as you all know... the biggest difference between this year and last is that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, our life has come to halt. I am selfishly overwhelmed with sadness that I don’t get to celebrate this girl with our friends and family this year. I think I’m mostly sad because while I understand what’s happening and see the importance in what we are doing by staying in our homes - It is surreal that my 2 year old and 2 week old are growing up in this world where bad things like this can happen. I know it’s a little dramatic. She’s 2. We have each other. We have bright and sunny days ahead filled with trips to the park, bike rides with friends, and lots of volleyball tournaments. We all need to sit still for a little while until this passes and we can resume this incredible life we have built for our kids.

So I’ll be home for awhile. If there is anything I am taking away from this it is that our freedom, our health, and fresh air are nothing to take for granted. It can be taken away in an instant and I’d really do anything to get it all back. But for now, I’ll be spending the day trying my best (inside) to create a special day for my 2 year old while there is a pandemic going on outside. I’m going to hug and kiss her about a thousand times. I’m going to make her funfetti cupcakes because that was all that was left. I’m going to wrap up old toys and let her “open presents” all day long. I’m going to do my best to give her the birthday she deserves.

It won’t be color coordinated and it won’t be perfect. It actually won’t even be close to the picture I have in my mind. But we are safe, we are healthy, and if we are going to be stuck here, I’m glad it’s together. Stay safe out there everyone.

Arielle Houlihan

Bay to Bay Volleyball

Club Director

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