My employer announced early this month that all business travel was canceled for March, and then yesterday HR announced that the travel restriction would be extended through April.
The first announcement was a little surprising, but the second — given the chaos of the last week and the president’s not-so-reassuring Oval Office address on Wednesday that resulted in a strict ban on Schengen travelers to the US — was widely anticipated.
I’d been traveling so much the past year, mostly for business with a couple of personal trips thrown in there for good measure, including one to Asia in December, that it’s a little jarring to suddenly find myself with a long, long stretch of being homebound ahead of me. I’d just come back from a trip to Singapore when our first internal travel ban was announced, and I’m not going to lie: I was relieved that the ban only came down after I’d already returned. I love Singapore and especially loved the chance to go there on my employer’s dime, evangelizing WordPress.com and establishing friendships and relationships that I hope will result in some exciting opportunities for us. When the current pandemic dies down, that is. Did I mention that I absolutely adore my job?
Still, now that I’ve had some time to re-establish a regular routine at home, there’s something to be said for being unexpectedly grounded for an indefinite period of time. There’s no running commentary in the back of my mind, keeping track of what travel size toiletries I need to stock up on before my next trip, checking the American Airlines seating charts to see if I can move myself to a better positioned seat, opening up LinkedIn to see if there is someone else with whom I should connect at my next destination, scanning my local library’s Kindle collection for new titles to add to my device.
I can walk my pups.
I can make doctor’s appointments…and not have to reschedule them.
I can run without having to make the mental calculations of where and when I can run next week, plotting out tentative running routes in unknown cities, translating km to mi and wondering how much I can trust local reviews on popular running routes. (Pro-tip: running in Manila’s Luneta Park is only fun on Saturday mornings if you enjoy dodging and weaving hundreds of kids, dogs, vendors, cleaning crews, and other runners.The upside? A kiosk selling cold bottled water for less than 50 cents every few feet.)
I can let the dry cleaning pile up.
I can bake bread and pastries and cookies and know that I can actually eat some of them before giving them away. (And who am I kidding — given that the world is going to hell, there’s a lot of stress baking going on in my house right now.)
I can — and this is what I’m really excited about — plan my new garden for spring, knowing that I’ll actually be here to work on the soil, plant the seedlings, and watch them grow, at least the first few weeks.
My office is starting to look less like I just moved in, and more like a warm and inviting place in which I’d like to hang around all day.
I can get used to this.
For now. My job requires establishing and cementing relationships with potential partners, and it’s hard to do that over even frequent Zoom hangouts and phone calls. Great connections happen over coffee, over meals, over cocktails, over handshakes and laughs and new jokes said in voices without the echo of VoIP. There’s a magic and psychic energy in personal connections that is almost impossible to replicate over video conference, no matter how advanced the technology.
I need to get back on the road and in the air.
But for now, though, I relish the peace and stillness of being home. To everything there is a season.