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  • Writer's pictureKanani Fong

A Covid Year: What we've learned

We had a splendid winter, started each day with a brisk walk in the Sandia foothills, or a dreamy walk along the ditch among towering cottonwoods. Often, we'd go down to the Bosque, and meander along the narrow trails to look at the Rio Grande. It was cold, some days it was even snowing, but our dog Alice likes to walk, and especially loves to prance and run in the snow. One would think we'd be the only ones out there, bundled up with a small pack, sandwich stuffed inside temperatures below 25º, walking from one trail to the next. But no. For New Mexico not only has rugged dogs, it also has hale and hearty people like me, who think nothing of eating a sandwich in the snow, seated on a snow covered picnic bench while looking out at the city with her dog.

We heard news from Wuhan, but each day brought a new sun, a new trail, a new brace of air, another reason to go soak after a long day out, in the hot tub at Albuquerque Baths. Our perfect evening was a taco made lovingly by Liz at Red Door Brewing Company, and all of it seemed so far away.

And then, Covid hit. Like the cruelest dry wind, we found ourselves shut in, and worse than that, we saw fear creeping into our collective conscience. Businesses closed, livelihoods were sapped. Educations were halted, calling into question the future of learning. Everyone, regardless of age, had to get online and learn zoom. Forums became places where people went because they were lonely. This was okay, because as the novelty wore off, sometimes just seeing a neighbor in the distance was cause for joy.

We couldn't imagine that those carefree days of winter, would turn into the longest voluntary confinement for hundreds of thousands of people. We found our Reservations and Pueblos fighting for their lives, and exits to Gallup closed. The new warriors stepped up: Our healthcare workers, who would work multiple 12 hour shifts, or shifts that would turn to 24, and traveling nurses and doctors dropped in from other countries to help fill our shortages. We would find that the quiet heroes were the checkers at the grocery stores, the clerks who cleaned the shelves, washed the carts, the gas station attendants who made sure we stayed rolling, even though there were few places to roll to, or the social workers who gamely continued their work with those who needed them, online. We learned that there is no such thing as a non-essential worker. All workers are part of this patchwork we call community, or home.

Casa Otra Vez changed direction, and provided much needed housing for someone whose job ended, giving them time to find a new one. It was, we felt, what my mother Anna would have done. And then, we waited, and cleaned, and cleaned and hoped. The days of the Balloon Fiesta passed, and it was cause for joy and tears, when a few valiant Balloons took to the skies those days. A reminder of what will be to come.

We love our guests. Joyce, Amber and the crew of professionals at Southwest Suites are working their hearts out. We look forward to the film companies coming back in January. New Mexico filmworkers, and the allied businesses will welcome them . Casa Otra Vez, and the spirit of Anna, will always be here.

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