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#COVIDCatLady, Day 52

We celebrated birthdays on the team today. I wore a paper crown. Because of recent events, what’s usually a big monthly team dinner is now a January-March birthdays’ cake day. The cake was fantastic and it felt great to be joking around with my colleagues again, even if we were still wearing surgical masks in the meeting room. There are setbacks, of course. It’s going to be a challenging year ahead. But today was just a Tuesday in the office, with meetings and “what should we eat for lunch?” and some banter. It felt incredibly average. Until I asked a friend how her kid’s doing with all the time at home, and she said, “I haven’t seen her in two months.”

Her and a few others on my team live in Suzhou, a city that’s an easy 40-minute high speed rail ride away. These colleagues usually commute home every weekend, leaving their young children at home with the grandparents. This is very common in China. But to maintain their green QR code, to avoid having to quarantine again, they can’t go home. Gathering in groups feel normal now, but real normal might still be a couple of months away.


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