Summer Shorts: Thinking About How We Get Through This National Crisis

If you are anything like me, the coronavirus has taken over a majority of your thoughts the past couple of days. My day job is in financial services working with the public so I am at the point where I am washing my hands between every client interaction. I think I have gone through at least a quart of Purel at work, not to mention the amount of handwashing we do at home.

Lauren and I, starting Tuesday, will begin to social distancing. We have made our runs to Target, Walmart, and Food Lion. Now, if you know ANYTHING about Lauren and me, you know that we don’t like to cook or do dishes. We live, breathe, and die by takeout and restaurants. Monday night, we went to the grocery store and bought enough food to at least get us through the week, including lunches at work.

Some of you, including my dear editor Lynn Mitchell, read that last paragraph and your jaw just hit the floor. Because we never cook.

However, while walking through the grocery store, I watched my wife as she walked through the aisles. Lauren is a Southwest Virginia girl, born and raised in Tazewell County. To say that Tazewell County women are tough is like saying that the sky is blue. She is tough as nails and never shows any weakness.

However, tonight in the store, I could sense a sign of nervousness in her voice. I could sense that Lauren, my wife who is a pillar in our community, church, and in our home, had distress in her voice.

The next few weeks will take America to hell and back. We will have to sacrifice. There may not be any of my favorite things, like spicy tuna rolls sushi or Thirsty Thursday with the guys. We may have to stay home from the movies, the mall, or the local brewery. We might even have to stay home for a few weeks.

Newsflash to the millenials, we can sacrifice good tacos (although I am going to miss Cabo Fish Taco Honey Ginger Shrimp Tacos with cheddar mashed potatoes) and a little vacation time at work to make sure that our friends and neighbors do not get sick.

First, I would say that I would go out to the store and get your supplies now. At any time, we could be asked to stay home. So go get your supplies. And for the love of God, don’t hoard toilet paper. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus; it has nothing to do with your bowels.

So I say that yes, you should practice social distancing. Because I work with the public on a regular basis, you might not see me outside of work for a while. I do that because I want to keep the public safe. I want to keep my clients safe, I want to keep my friends safe, and I want to keep my family safe. I do not want to be in public any more than necessary.

America has been called to a higher purpose before. I think about the greatness of the Americans that came before me. My Pappa and Granny Hall lived through the Great Depression and World War Two. My grandfather, Otis Vernon, stormed Normandy. My grandfather, Ranzie Hall, was in the U.S. Air Force. He lived thousands of miles from home on a remote radar station in Japan during the late 1950s long before the days of cell phones or Facebook.

I am sure that all of you have similar stories about your families. How those people survived as Americans in great peril. We cannot and should not think that this is the toughest thing that we as have ever faced. We must rise to the occasion.

That doesn’t mean we cannot be scared. Being scared is fine, but panicking is where things go wrong. You don’t need three cases of toliet paper. You can still go to the grocery store; just respect people’s personal space. Just make sure that you practice social distancing.

Finally, before you have to quarrantine or have to alter your life, think of something happy. Maybe while you’re browsing Amazon, order something that makes you happy.

Saturday while I was out running errands, I picked up some odds and ends and I wandered my way to the men’s clothing. That is where I found a pair of shorts. Now these shorts, are a little wild. They are grey with blue, yellow, orange, and a little bit of pink in the design. They are a little loud (of course they are, look who bought them!). They might not be something I wear out everywhere. They were on sale, so I bought them.

Today I started to think about where I might wear them. I remembered some of my favorite nights of the summer of 2019. Contrary to the belief of some Virginia Republicans who think I am a heathen, Lauren and I attend a local church in Roanoke. It’s non-denominational, a little laid back in music (which sometimes bothers me, because I like hymns) and dress code, but strong in their faith (it’s a Baptist based non-denominational church). However, we like to have fun.

Some of the most fun nights of the past summer were with our church. Our praise band doesn’t always play praise music. Outside of church, about 75 percent of our praise band plays in a cover band that plays local venues around town. Usually, the church gets their schedule and follows them around like groupies.

The band’s shows turn into church socials, because who doesn’t love live music? That means at least two weekends a month during the summer, we are at an outdoor venue listening to good music with friends. There is always good food and a cold beer (not too many, of course, everything in moderation). Well, except for the dancing. We dance, alot. Every song, we are out dancing to good music.

You see, the most important thing about my church friends, is that they are EXTREMELY different from the political people in my life. People in politics always want something from me. Matt, write this for me. Matt, come to this event. Matt, we need $50 for a fundraiser. Matt, come spend this Saturday knocking doors for candidate X. I feel like people in politics always want something from me. They also want me to be something I am not. They want me to be quieter, they want me to toe the line, and always support every last Republican with the last true measure and devotion.

My church family doesn’t want anything from Lauren and me other than showing up to the church and being engaged. I don’t have to hide my opinion on anyone or anything. I don’t have to be anyone other than myself. I am allowed to be loud, allowed to show off my crazy dance moves, and more importantly, be the person that God made me.

On those summer nights, where we are out doing the cha-cha slide or we have a cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” blasting through outdoor speakers, the world of work and politics fades away into a summer night. The cold beer and good conversation wash away the struggles of life and the craziness of being a political junkie. We just go out and dance, to forget about the world, and to be with good friends.

Throughout this Coronavirus crisis, I plan to leave those new shorts in my line of sight where I can see them every day. I plan on thinking about those shorts when it’s hard to eat a meal at home or I’m craving a craft beer from the local brewery. When I want to go to the mall or get out of the house, I will think about the shorts I bought with the crazy patterns on them because if we sacrifice now, by the time it gets to summer, we hope to have gotten over the Coronavirus.

I tell you this crazy tale of dancing in the summer to “Crazy in Love” in crazy shorts to tell you this. Find a memory, a happy memory, to get you through the tough days. Maybe it’s an outfit you order on Amazon. Maybe it’s a book that helps you grow as a person. No matter what it is, find the happiest memory, and hold on to it when the days get tough.

In the words of one of my favorite Americana bands, American Aquarium, “Tough times don’t last, but tough folks do.”

Hold on to a memory of the past summer or fall. Think about something that makes you happy and think about how in about 10 weeks this should all be over. Hold on to something fun that makes you laugh.

America is a brave and resilient experiment in freedom. When America is tested, people hold on to the memories of the happy times knowing that they will come again.

Lastly, most importantly, I encourage you to pray for grace and healing. I try my best not to shove my faith down other people’s throats, but right now I think it could be a good time to pray.

I leave you with this important verse of scripture.

Second Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

So while I am at home and sad because I cannot be out as much as usual, I am going to think about my summer shorts and the good times ahead. Hold on to the good memories and pray that they come soon.

To the readers of Bearing Drift, I pray you are safe, happy, and healthy. I love you all.

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