My garage is my COVID haven
What got me through 2020? Well, who knew a garage could be so versatile and that as a space it would play such an integral part to COVID survival 2020 for me and my clan?
For reference, in March, I was five short months from official empty nest status. The pandemic was called and rather than fly to vacation with my child studying in Spain, I was scrambling for flights to get her home before they closed the borders. More children followed suit. With the addition of a couple of ‘plus ones,’ my nest had suddenly reached capacity! Quaint as it seems now, June was tagged the likely pandemic end date.
Renovations began. The garage, in this first incarnation, served as a paint station, workbench, build site, and purge-inspired pre-dump storage facility, as well as a great place to share a beer after a hard day of manual labour. Plotting and planning the next project or pondering the predicament we found ourselves in with the present one. Laughter continues to come easy in these moments.
A birthday loomed on the May horizon. From our ‘all dressed up, with no place to go’ mentality a plan was hatched to throw a COVID-friendly 21st birthday ‘pub’ crawl. Seven themed bars with corresponding cocktails, each fashioned by each participant, were plotted on the crawl map.’ Fifth stop was a ‘frat party’ in the garage, replete with game room gear rescued from the recent family cottage sale: tunes, darts, foosball, beer pong on the ping pong table, along with expertly crafted layered shots. By the time we completed the seventh stop it was 2 a.m. and our cheeks hurt from all the laughter.
It became clear within a few weeks that our one-off celebration to get us to the end of June was merely the blueprint for myriad celebrations to come. Pride was next on our list of celebrations and the rainbow ruled the day: clothing, dinner, drinks. Our bubble has since hosted another eight birthday celebrations, three graduations, and a few impromptu socially distanced visits – most of which included a stint in the garage. For my own birthday, my children applied every lesson I ever taught them about throwing a child’s birthday party and transformed the garage into a wonderful carnival-themed party extravaganza: games, prizes, caramel corn and a tickle-trunk inspired photobooth – priceless on so many levels. In September, my 82-year-old father met the challenge offered by his 18-year-old grandson for a table tennis match-up that counts among my favourite memories of 2020! A girlfriend’s launch into senior-hood was also safely navigated in and around the garage.
As the second wave of the pandemic gathered momentum, Thanksgiving loomed large. The garage delivered again. In a middle-of-the-night stroke of brilliance, I saw that with the right heating, lighting and an extremely large cloth covering, the ping pong table made the perfect socially distancing table. Once again, the garage was reimagined and reinvented. There was much to be grateful for, including the technology that allowed my Dalhousie student to join in.
Obviously, it was not the space itself but the people in it that made the difference this year. My bubble companions have brought great joy. Their creativity and willingness to go along for the ride made the garage so much more than the uninsulated, unfinished, poorly lit space that it is. With each celebration, we renewed hope for our future and an eventual return to normalcy. The pandemic has left us with a lot of uncertainty, but with a lot of memories too. Christmas is up in the air. On New Year’s Eve, there will be a celebration as 2020 moves into hindsight. Beyond that, what I do know is, come March, we have a double header – my daughter shares her birthday with her grandfather. It seems only fitting that they get their COVID birthday celebration too – I just wonder how the garage will factor into that one?