Thoughts on the No-Commute New-Abnormal

By Kristen Hartman | March 27, 2020

Tuesday, March 17, was my last normal day. Well, it wasn’t normal — the world was changing faster than any of us could imagine — but I still got up that morning and went to the office. It had the appearance of normal.

By the time I left work though, I knew I wasn’t going back any time soon. I’d packed up my laptop and wireless keyboard and mouse. I had the blue hyacinth my boss had given me the week before that surely wouldn’t survive being abandoned indefinitely in my cubicle.

Tuesday night I Zoom-ed with my small group since we couldn’t gather in the Fireside Room for Ignight. I went to bed a little numb to what was happening.

Wednesday morning I got up before my alarm. I showered and dressed, but I put on slippers instead of brightly colored shoes. My new reality was beginning to take on a concrete form.

I poured coffee into my favorite mug and then I saw it. Sitting on the counter was my commuter mug. I use it six out of seven days a week. It goes to work and church with me. It’s one of the most consistent parts of my daily routine. I picked up that commuter mug and unceremoniously tucked it away in the cupboard, and my breath caught in my throat a little.

It felt like a silly thing to grieve, but it was more than an accessory to my mornings. Somehow that scratched and dented commuter mug stood in for all that is normal, all that is consistent, all that is predictable and comforting in my life. And I’d just shelved it with no idea when I’d reach for it next.

I’m not just working from home and connecting with my small groups and larger church family over computer screens — I’m literally removed from my community. I’m finding whole new ways to have relationships with the people I can’t do life without even if I’m not allowed to share the same physical space with them. That’s good, and it’s hard. It’s good-hard. I’m incredibly grateful to have a job I can do remotely and the technology to be just as connected (maybe even more so) with my people while we’re separated by a stay-at-home order . . . and all of that is good-hard, too.

I’m sure you can relate, even if you aren’t grieving a commuter mug that has no commute to make any more. It’s okay to grieve the losses and changes, and it’s okay to celebrate the communal wins of video calls and live-streaming and marathon group texts.

This new abnormal we find ourselves in is good-hard. We can still be in it together, even while we stay six feet or more apart.

Kristen Hartman