Be careful of what you wish for


Courtesy Jackie Gutierrez

After spending almost two months inside my family’s new house, one rebuilt after the Tubbs Fire burnt our original home, I’ve realized how necessary it is to slow down and absorb the little moments.

Jackie Gutierrez, Staff WRiter

A few months ago, I yearned for the comfort of my new home, but if I spend one more month here I might lose it. My mind that is.

Two years after the Tubbs fire engulfed my home, my family and I finally moved into our newly rebuilt house in Coffey Park. The transition into our new lifestyle was full of unpacking, relief, appreciation and a desire to spend more time at home. There’s an old saying: be careful what you wish for, and it couldn’t be more true. The shelter-in-place order to limit the spread of the coronavirus has made me rethink what I thought I wanted. 

The first few days of being at home were far better than the ones that followed, perhaps because the severity of the situation had not yet struck me. Although this means I have more time I can spend with my family, catching up on projects or doing something productive, I’ve managed to do the exact opposite. With so much time and a broken routine the first week of break, I resorted to painting, biking and binge-watching coming-of-age films. As relaxing as that sounds, living with five other people has not been.

These past few weeks at home have been filled with everything from fun soccer games in the yard to bickering and unnecessary arguments and deep house cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. Frequently, I can be found  wiping down all 26 doorknobs in my house; other times I find myself stacking, restacking, and organizing my clothes or art supplies in my room. Honestly, I don’t mind cleaning or organizing my belongings, but I despise doing so every single day or risk being yelled at.

Being around my family so much has made me appreciate my own space, and the change the pandemic has created makes communal living unbearable at times. Before the pandemic, I’d babysat my younger siblings for five or so hours at a time, but having to watch over them for double that has made me contemplate whether I ever want to have kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little brother and sister, but it’s stressful enough trying to juggle my own classes and housework. 

When online classes began, I didn’t expect the additional work and attention I would have to give the two, especially my 9-year-old brother, Noah. He demands extra assistance with navigating online coursework, so I’ve had to guide and homeschool the little guy. On the other hand, my 12-year-old sister Ilene has kept me busy with crafting projects and at-home science experiments. Each day seems to be a new experience, and as much as the projects are enjoyable, they are tiring and timely. Spending time with my siblings almost every day as their defacto homeschool teacher has given new meaning to being an older sister. Although my siblings and I desire our past routines and weekend outings with our parents or their soccer team, this pandemic has nurtured our bond and helped recover all the time we hadn’t spent together. 

A year ago, I was having trouble adjusting to my college classes and decided it would be best to take some time away from school to learn more about myself. Every Tuesday, my best friend and I would gather our backpacks full of snacks, our swimsuits and an extra change of clothes. Without direction, we spent every Tuesday of that spring semester outdoors, hiking, swimming and driving through roads we hadn’t yet explored. Looking back at moments like those, I yearn for that bit of freedom.

After spending nearly two months inside my family’s new house, I’ve realized how necessary it is to slow down and absorb the little moments. Before the shelter-in-place order, I wished to spend more time at home, however, now I yearn for experiences I took for granted, such as hiking the trails of Goat Rock Beach or picnicking in Muir Woods. Being confined to a single space and limited activities fills me with gratitude and appreciation for those conversations in the park with friends, weekend get-togethers and any and all time spent outdoors.