Quarantine Update – AKA What a difference a decade makes.

Well, it’s actually been eleven years, but I digress. I made a comment on Twitter, and a person or two liked it. Aubrey was sitting in Erika’s lap, and in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a secondary player can follow the active player around. Aubrey kept running away from Erika while she was trying to fish, causing the screen to shift and Erika’s view of the fish to be obscured.

Erika exclaimed, “Ugh! Fishing with a four-year-old in Animal Crossing is just as bad as it is in real life!”

I grabbed my phone and retorted, “Oh, I dunno.” And pulled up one of my favorite photos of Alyssa and me “fishing” at Lynx Lake.


 

It was on May 17th, 2009. Grandma was with us. You can’t see it in the photo, but if memory serves, we had a bag of Kix cereal. I didn’t want to actually catch a fish that day, and I remember sticking a Kix on the hook and casting it. Four-year-old Alyssa would reel it back in, I’d put another on the hook, and she’d eat a handful. Then, repeat – It was a great day.

I had just finished up my very first semester at Yavapai College. According to my transcripts, I had a 4.0 GPA. I was working at a Fox News Radio affiliate back then, and the paycheck was pretty good. We owned a house in an unincorporated area between Prescott and Prescott Valley then. Anthony was doing well at a local charter school. I probably weighed about 225 pounds or so.

What a difference a decade (eleven years) makes.

Today is April 5th, 2020. I’m avoiding writing a discussion board post for my graduate degree. It’s due tomorrow. I finished that degree at Yavapai College. It took me three years, and my final GPA was 3.49. I think I was .01 short of the dean’s list or something. I also got my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University. It took me… wow, five years to finish that one. Losing a job, a house, and a cancer diagnosis derailed that one. Not that it matters, but my final GPA was 3.51 – enough for the dean’s list. I got fired from the Fox News Radio Affiliate twice. We bought a new house – going on 3.5 years here. My weight has been a major issue partly due to the cancer, and partly due to the fact that I lovefood. I’m about 280, and not happy about it.

Anthony and Erika are both getting their associate’s degrees from Yavapai College this summer. Anthony should be starting his bachelor’s in the fall. Alyssa is now fourteen, and is a hell of an artist, musician, and actor. Many of you who have met us at an event have seen her artwork. This proud dad brags any chance he gets. I’m working on my MBA, with an eye on my PhD. If everything goes as planned, I’ll get my MBA spring 2021, and start my PhD that Fall. I’ve got a great job that allows me to telework during the coronavirus crisis.

Anyway, Aubrey, like any four-year-old, wanted to see the photo I showed Erika. The interaction went something like this:

“Is that me in that photo?” Aubrey inquired.

“Does it look like you?” I replied.

“Well, yes, but…”

“Ah,” I said. “Do you remember fishing with me?”

“No,” she replied.

A smile crept on my face, and I looked to Erika. We’ve been married twenty years, and together longer. I knew that she knew what I was thinking. We couldn’t go to Lynx Lake due to quarantine, but we have a nice back yard…


 

I hope everyone reading this is safe. A dear friend of mine lost her husband recently, and I’ve read of others in the same situation. My mother-in-law, who has spent every weekend at my house since Aubrey was born is having a tough time distancing from us. Since Anthony is working at Fry’s (Kroger), we felt that it wasn’t safe for Erika’s mom to spend the weekends here. I only go into work one day a week, and there are only about four people there when I do. Because of my Leukemia, I’m not any safer, but family.

There is a lot of anxiety out there right now. There is a lot of misinformation. There is a lot of people worried about their friends, loved ones, jobs, communities, etc. We need to have compassion for our fellow humans. Animal Crossing will only take us so far :) We need to be better. We need to do better. As Alyssa is fond of saying, “Love wins.”

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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