We can do hard things.

I last posted in January of this year, but it feels like much longer ago. For one thing, that post was about the interior design of our apartment–and we live in a totally different apartment now. So, I guess I will do another before/after post at some point.

We feel fortunate compared with so many others this year. We endured pay cuts, we were stuck far away from home and family during traumatic lockdowns, and the kids only spent a short amount of time at school this year. But we are healthy, we are still able to save money for the future, and our little family is together.

In the spring, we were under lockdown. I have sort of blocked out a lot of that time from my memory so I am not sure exactly how many weeks we stayed home, but I know it was approximately 3 months. When people outside of Jordan hear “lockdown,” they say “oh yeah, we’ve done a bunch of lockdowns this year too.” But no, you haven’t done a lockdown like this. We were under strict orders not to leave our homes. The grocery stores were closed for a while, and when they reopened, they could only let in a few people at a time (and only one per family was allowed to go), and we weren’t allowed to drive to them, so we could only take as much food as one person could carry for a few miles. I got bread from a bread line and chicken off the back of a truck. I once waited in line for 4 hours only for the police to shut down the grocery store due to overcrowding; when I found a small convenience store, I bought everything I could find that we might possibly eat (random cans of vegetables, for example).

All of this paid off in the end, because by summer there was virtually no COVID-19 in this country, and only a few people died of COVID-19 this year in Jordan, up until October-ish. We were able to enjoy life again after so many weeks indoors. We sent the kids to summer day camp (where they wore masks all day long), we went snorkeling in the Red Sea and hiking near the Dead Sea, we had Petra and Wadi Rum to ourselves. Of course, restaurants and hotels had to abide by strict rules for mask-wearing and extra food safety measures, but we were generally able to go wherever we wanted again. We chose to keep our social circle very small anyway, and only saw a few other families this year. But that wasn’t such a bad thing. We have found really wonderful friends here, and we feel lucky to have gotten to know them so well.

In the fall, we moved to a new apartment. It is life-changing to have a balcony! I wish we could have had a balcony during the strict lockdown, but at least we have it now, because the lockdowns are back. This fall has been a roller coaster. We’ve been in strict 14-day quarantine due to exposure, we’ve been in employer-imposed semi-lockdowns, we’re back to weekend “total” lockdowns too. At this point, it doesn’t even scare me anymore. All summer, I said I could never go through that experience like we had in the spring, but in the end, we got through it again. (And this time, the grocery stores stayed open, and food deliveries are possible, which is a huge relief.)

As we enter into winter (it just turned colder today), I know there will be more challenges ahead, even though 2021 is around the corner. There is no indication yet that the kids will be back at school any time soon, and we won’t be allowed to go to restaurants or socialize much until things get better (among many other employer-imposed rules). It’s hard, and there are days when I am just so tired of it. But I am trying to focus on all of the positive things that we’ve witnessed this year. I am so amazed by the scientists who came up with multiple effective vaccines, and hopeful that the vaccines will eventually mitigate the spread of this deadly disease. I’ve seen so many people sacrifice their social lives (and possibly their own mental health) in order to help protect the most vulnerable people.

And of course, our adventures here in Jordan are something to celebrate. As much as we wish we could have visited the U.S. this year as we usually do, we are grateful to be in a country where we can easily drive to beautiful places for the weekend.


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