When everything shut down two years ago, I had so many plans and goals! I was going to get my house so clean and organized! I was going to take my dog and kids on long walks and find creative ways to teach my kids the content they needed to be learning for Grades 2 and 7 and my dog basic obedience commands! I was going to cook really ambitious meals and bake my own bread with a sourdough starter I was just beginning to cultivate right this very second! I was going to do all of this while staying on top of my job and also finding new and innovative ways to connect with my students who were also now all stuck at home.

After about three days, reality set in … and then two weeks after that, my dad got super-sick and almost died and I became his full-time caretaker and then it really all went to shit.

By the time summer rolled around, my house was a bigger mess than in normal times because we never left it and also never had company over to inspire us to frantically clean up. My dog was still a jerk and my kids had gone borderline feral because there was no way to do even part of my job well and also give them the attention they needed. We ate sandwiches for dinner many nights because I had no desire to cook and even less desire to do all of the dishes that result from cooking. As for my students, I started sobbing any time I emailed with them and went through an entire box of Kleenex watching their drive-thru graduation. And bread? Turns out homemade bread goes stale within 24 hours and no one in my house liked sourdough anyway.

So now? Two years later?

Things are more or less back to normal … a new sort of normal, as we’re all sick of hearing and saying and writing. We’re back in school full-time, just with masks on, and even that may be stopping soon. My dad is doing well … but I unexpectedly lost my mom. I would not have seen that coming a year ago. The pandemic changed our family in good ways and bad, but some changes – also good and bad – were just part of the normal passage of time.

I sometimes have nostalgia for those early pandemic days, when I really thought it would all be over soon and I needed to cherish every moment of family togetherness. Sometimes, though, I remember the fear and anxiety and frustration, the disappointment over canceled events, the stress of having to go inside any building ever, the confusion over how to mute yourself on Zoom.

Mostly, I guess, I’m grateful. Grateful for science, grateful for vaccines, grateful for so many things I used to take for granted.

I found my sourdough starter in the back of my fridge the other day and smiled. I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw it out, so I just poured off the liquid and fed it some flour and put it back.

We probably never will make anything with sourdough again. But it, like us, has lived through a lot these past two years, and I think it’s earned a spot in the fridge.