I don’t know how to reintegrate back into "before" habits and places and friends
Last night I mentioned to Bhavna that I was having some challenges getting back into my pre-pandemic habits. Hiking, Friday lunches with friends, and early morning photography walks were some of my activities before the pandemic. I was always quick to rise. I told her that I think I am still mourning the loss of "before". When I was a child, our family moved around the Caribbean quite a bit as Dad pursued his career goals with Barclays. It would take me a year or two to make friends and learn the local customs. Moving meant leaving behind the close friends I had made and the food and culture I had adapted to. It was painful, and I think I learned to just "let go" and adjust again to the new reality. I continued that practice as I pursued my studies in the USA, moving from university to university (Madison, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia, Ann Arbor. Michigan) and then back to New Jersey. I continued to say goodbye and move on.
I think I did the same during the two years of the pandemic. I had to let go of the "before". I let it ALL go. I adjusted to building a community around just a few places; my sister-in-law's garage and driveway, the outdoor space at the Brick Farm Tavern, and Flounder Brewing. But unlike my previous experiences, I didn’t move. Everyone and everything is still here. The pandemic ended, but all the places and people never left.
I think part of me is afraid. I don’t know how to reintegrate into "before" habits, places, and friends. I’m struggling.
Bhavna, Kiran and I hiked on the Aunt Molly Trail yesterday. We had a second day of sunny weather for Memorial Day, so Bhavna and I decided on another hike. I suggested we try the Mount Rose Preserve in Hopewell which isn’t too far from Aunt Molly Road.
Mount Rose is a nearly 400-acre preserve in Hopewell Township that was slated for development. The preserve is on land that was previously a corporate campus, and later a major research and education facility for Western Electric and AT&T. It was preserved in 2015 through the work of FoHVOS and several important partner organizations. The preserve is a landscape of both forest and meadow. Mount Rose is home to our longest trail yet, an over 2-mile hike that stretches through mature forest, streams, and second growth forest.
We misread the map and followed a short trail which connected to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) which is a paved trail, perfect for strolls or bicycling. We walked along this wetland trail under we arrived at Carter Road. Realising our mistake, we turned around and headed back to the entrance to the preserve.
From the trailhead, we found the entrance to the trailhead for the 2-mile forest loop trail. I saw so many new plants and flowers and like the Aunt Molly Trail, this trail took us over streams, through the dense forest, shrubland and meadow habitats. We came upon a deer exclosure that allows New Jersey native plants to grow and thrive without the threat of deer.
The trail has been recently updated with signage about COVID-19.
Bhavna and I agreed that this was the best trail we have hiked and we intend to return again and again. We talked about life under COVID-19, future planning, taxes, etc.
I uploaded all the forty-seven photos remaining after my deletion from the original 200. They are in chronological order.
Listen to yourself. Don’t listen to the industry or the feeds or the groups. Don’t follow the herd. The world doesn’t need more of the same. You don’t need to show that you can do it, too. You need to show who you are.Spencer Lum