ORLANDO, Fla. -- We are at Walt Disney World for the NBA reboot, blessed and safe, yet grounded and trapped. It’s stifling and restricting and limiting and whenever we bemoan being fenced in, we’re being … selfish.
We’re certainly not alone on an Earth that has stopped revolving. In fact, the families we left behind have their feet in cement, too. You have kids? Can you imagine a summer being stuck in the house for the most part?
I have it easy. My daughter, Victoria, on the other hand, does not.
She’s an All-American track athlete who’ll begin her final year as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Last winter, she copped the opportunity of her young life: An internship with NBC and a trip to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Those are coveted spots, awarded to very few.
And if that wasn’t good enough: Weeks later, she earned another summer internship offer, from Nike, which accepts less than 2% of those who apply.
It became a hard decision. After much thought, she took Nike because she’d be based in New York City for an entire summer and it stretched longer than the NBC job. And when coronavirus forced the Olympics to postpone until 2021, it appeared she chose wisely.
But this pandemic spares no one, and her visions of staying in a cramped Manhattan apartment and people-watching in the Village and getting a cultural fix in Harlem and at the museums and in Soho went poof … when Nike’s New York office shut down until further notice.
That meant all interns had to work remotely. Which meant a 22-year-old would remain inside her childhood home, using a spare bedroom transformed into an office, and spend her time sitting in front of a laptop for hours while Zooming.
She is blessed, absolutely. And also trapped, confined and restricted. She is you. And me. And everyone else.
Her grand plans had to be recalibrated and refitted into a new reality, and it’s not the experience she wanted or would’ve preferred. I hear it in her voice during our calls to reconnect. There is stress and a hint of disappointment mixed with concern for next month, when she returns UGA.
Will she also do most if not all her classes online? What about her final track season? All NCAA spring sports were canceled four months ago, which gave her an extra year of eligibility. But college sports, especially the non-revenue kind, are caught in a fog of uncertainty right now. Will there even be a track season?
As parents, your emotions reflect those of your children. It’s the inescapable link that barely wanes over time, even when they become adults. Ask me how my day’s going, and that depends on how her day’s going.
We’re all trying to make this work while embracing opportunity and good fortune and understanding that health and safety are what’s most important.
But none of us are alone. We’re all linked together. Until there’s a sudden turn of events scientifically and a new reality in this perplexed world, we’re all family.
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