Originally, it was just for a week or two. Maybe a month. Or a few months. But I returned to the office 15 months after Oregon closed down because of the pandemic. Not wearing a mask for the first time was abnormally normal and normally abnormal.
The Pacific Northwest burned in a heat dome this weekend where we reached temperatures I’ve never experienced before. Our house has two portable air conditioners but it was barely enough to keep the us from melting. We rotated icy objects in our gerbils’ habitat to keep them from overheating. Jenni shielded all windows with curtains, poster board, and sheets to keep the heat out.
Despite being locked down during the forest fires, working in our bedroom with three monitors was sustainable. The air conditioner was loud but that’s what my noise-cancelling headphones were for. But it never got this hot last summer.
When the forecast showed the record-melting temperatures for Monday and our office lifting most of the restrictions from COVID-19, I got up this morning at 5am to disassemble my workstation to move it back to the office. Or, I should say, the heat woke us up at 5am.
I am grateful that I could return to the office today to comfortably work in an air-conditioned space. But also a return to things I left behind working from home. The additional exercise from walking more than ten feet to get a drink or use the restroom. The faster internet because my desktop is wired into the network instead of dealing with passable Wi-Fi and an additional layer of the company VPN. Seeing the smiles of my coworkers when we greeted each other in the hallway. The chance to transition to and from work during my short commute. Kissing Jenni goodbye before I go to work.
That last one was bittersweet since Jenni and I enjoy spending time together. I had always dreamed of working from home and I got my wish. There have been so many great things from the experience. I got spoiled by rolling out of bed and starting work right away so I could get off by mid-afternoon to take the kids to ballet. Whenever I felt tired, Jenni was always ready to go on a walk through our neighborhood, instead of me hunting for junk food around the office. My work desktop is capable gaming computer and I enjoyed many hours of Rainbow Six Siege this winter. I never had to pack a lunch because Jenni would cook and I could come down when it’s hot and ready, eat, and be right back to work. I got to provide tech support for my family without having to diagnose issues over the phone.
458 days. Or 1 year, 3 months, and 1 day since I moved my workstation to my home because of a pandemic. It’s a big step going back to “normal” but it’s not normal. It shouldn’t be exactly like what it was before. It’s going to be better.