I was raised in the American Midwest by parents whose definition of being punctual is to show up to a gathering or obligation (or for a weekend visit!) at least 20-30 minutes early. When I worked part time as a high school and college student, being on time was showing up at least 10-15 minutes before my shift started and when taking classes in high school and college the situation was similar: I arrived at my classes and had my supplies ready to begin when the teacher or professor started class at the appointed time.
Living in the Caribbean as a Peace Corps teacher was not only my first experience living in a different time zone, it was also my first experience living with a different cultural understanding of time. I will forever remember West Indian gatherings almost always starting after the designated time, such as attending a concert at Jolly Bay where the Wailers (as in Bob Marley and the Wailers 10 years prior) were the headline act, and while they were supposed to start at 10, they did not perform until at least midnight–on a Sunday night, a school night! I remember how standing in line at the post office waiting to pick up a package required a special kind of patience and how much I loved going to the Bank of Antigua bank, for not only the air conditioning, but also the impeccable service and how you didn’t have to wait long in line.
In the last nearly 25 years since I returned to the US after Peace Corps, my adherence to my midwestern core values of time has been suspicious. I just don’t follow the same strict adherence to time management that I did prior to Peace Corps. I show up at the designated time if I feel it is important enough, but often times I find myself arriving a few minutes late. Still, all these years later.
Being in this stretch of COVID-19, my sense of time is all messed up. Something like going to the grocery store requires a different kind of planning and energy than in the past. Walking the dogs, learning how to use Zoom and Google Meets, figuring out how to assign grades virtually, and attending virtual doctor’s appointments has become my new reality.
After 3 months of living in this new fangled reality, just as many midwestern States were starting to enter new phases of COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery and releasing people back into more normal lives, a man from Texas living in Minneapolis was murdered by police. George Floyd’s death while being taken in to custody by police has triggered protests in cities large and small, near and far.
After a Sunday of vandalism and looting within a block from our condo, with all of its sirens and helicopters and unrest and fear, Tuesday night’s march and peaceful protest, through one of my community’s most vital streets, was truly cathartic.
Black Lives Matter.
George Floyd’s life matters.
Doing better matters.