Almost a Year

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If you want to talk, I’m always here. 

That was the ending to an email I sent yesterday. To a friend. It goes for everyone. 

Tough, trying times for all of us. We are all in this together.

Miles starts his spring break today. Two weeks. It’s usually a tricky time, I’m winding down my work and gearing up for Cheltenham while Miles is winding down from school and gearing up for spring break. I feel guilty for leaving. No Cheltenham this year. Miles and I will watch from the couch. Not sure morning Guinness is going to work this year. 

A year ago, this thing called the coronavirus was lurking, lingering in the distance, the periphery, something that might become an issue somewhere down the line. “It’s the flu…” I brushed it off, well, more like just ignored it as I prepared for Cheltenham. Part of me figured if they call off Cheltenham, then, it’s a big deal and they made the decision for me. When it wasn’t called off, then I kind of looked at it the same way. Good enough for them, good enough for me. 

I’ll never forget the dates. I left March 7, 2000. I returned March 14, 2000. A volcano in between.

It was a stressful week, stressful being relative, while at Cheltenham but it definitely didn’t have the same feel. Shaking people’s hands, laughing, hugging once-a-year comrades, exchanging 20 pound notes with the bookies and the Tote, wading in and through and out of the Guinness Village, balancing three cups of black gold in a triangle of engineering, hovering over buffets and clinking champagne inside boxes and marquees, riding in cars, staying in friends’ homes, going to the pub to decompress and decipher the day, yeah, all of those moves had somehow become more enormous, more threatening, more consequential. It was strange, verging on surreal. And then, simply became strange, surreal, unsettling and the most disruptive era I’ve ever known. 

Cheltenham begins Tuesday. Marking a year of when life changed.