Samantha Yeargin

Mar 2, 2022, 9:30 PM

Returning

While fixing broken image links and cleaning up things in the transition from Gatsby to Astro, I re-read nearly every sentence of this usually-neglected blog. It feels like another lifetime. Even the posts about work feel alien, and I’m not only still at the same job but one of my best running pals is now on the same team.

Where to start? Two years ago, we huddled in the hallway while the tornado sirens atop nearby schools blared. Just a few branches landed in our front yard. When morning came, we learned how bad it was elsewhere. We didn’t have internet at home for a week - no big deal, yet. We took circuitous routes around the tornado’s destruction to our separate offices to work. I was already nervous about every cough and sniffle in the office, as I was seven months pregnant. I washed my hands with scalding water after each (frequent) retreat to the bathroom. Back at my standing desk in the open floor plan office I probably had active bitch face every time someone breathed wrong.

The next Wednesday at noon the company-wide work-from-home email went out. Stephen came into the building to lug my monitor out for me and that was that. We ordered groceries for the first time ever and wiped everything down. We sprayed the mail down with the only Lysol that was on the shelf when we supermarket swept through the Inglewood Kroger, some floral concoction that smelled like Boone’s Farm. We paid our amazing dog walker but walked the dog ourselves for the next two months, wandering the same loop twice a day. It was unseasonably cool until the week our daughter was born.

About a year and a half before that, I walked through our midcentury ranch’s pass-through bedroom and decided it had to be reconfigured so both of us could work in there. I ordered an 8’ by 8’ L-shaped cubicle desk from Wayfair and hired a painter to paint the paneling. It felt frivolous at the time. We didn’t work for the kind of places that let local employees regularly work from home and, despite regularly pairing with a talented Portland-based engineer whose goldendoodle was usually curled up on the couch behind him, I earnestly believed I needed to be in an office to do my best work. I just felt deeply important to me that we each have space in that room.

I think about that pull at least once a week now, often while on a daily standup Zoom.

I’d read Severance not long before, and afterward If Then, Naamah, The Dreamers, Station Eleven. None of these books were on my mind when I emailed the painting company for a quote. But it certainly feels like everything impending was on the edge of a collective consciousness.

“The end begins before you are ever aware of it. It passes as ordinary.” — Ling Ma, Severance

Our ordinary now is a lot of team effort: feeding and dressing the toddler, driving across town and back twice a day for childcare, the security theater of taking everyone’s temperature before we leave her to breathe the same air as a bunch of other little unmasked kids while we stay home. (Where to start about what it’s like to have a pandemic baby? Probably a whole new post.) I have a hard stop at 4:30 everyday and still don’t manage to return home before the sun dips below the horizon. It’s been the most sedentary winter of my adult life, and the little yellow house on 11th has been gone for two years.