A Canadian Immigration Officer, my antagonist, questioned me today at my place of quarantine. If this is the crisis in the story, as the protagonist I have three choices: resist the existing restrictions (unlawful), return to a Covid-free world (impossible), or prevail and redefine a way forward.
The universal story underlies every aspect of our lives. A look back reveals all the chapters we have lived. As in a story, obstacles test us. Characters help or hinder us. Hopefully, like protagonists, we grow and transform, using personal strengths to meet the ultimate crisis of each stage. With extreme difficulties, we might even become heroes.
Every story fits the framework of the universal plot: initiating incident, first energetic marker, second energetic marker, third energetic marker, crisis, climax, and resolution. A subplot can emerge in the middle of a larger story. It follows an ascending line to its own crisis. Once the subplot resolves, attention reverts to the feature story.
When I turned sixty-five, I intended to document the storyline of my senior-hood. For the first two years, I narrated the predictable plot: relocation, grandparenting, and eldercare. Human interest themes dominated with a bit of action from animals and birds. I hoped fellow seniors might relate.
In the middle of my light senior narrative a subplot developed: the pandemic. Just as expected, it follows the universal plot.
March 11, 2020: Covid-19 is declared a pandemic.
FIRST ENERGETIC MARKER
March 18, 2020: The U.S.-Canadian Border closes. I leave my son’s Canadian home and return to the United States just before border security halts travel.
SECOND ENERGETIC MARKER
June 24, 2020: My husband and I obtain a compassionate exemption to enter Canada with proper documentation and a mandatory self-isolation.
THIRD ENERGETIC MARKER
January 4, 2021: We reach the 180-day limit as foreign nationals and must return to the U.S.
March 3, 2021: We are needed in Canada.
11:30 a.m.: We arrive at the border to enter, but restrictions have intensified. Officials reject our documents. We return home in defeat.
2:30 p.m.: After regrouping, I obtain the proper documentation and return to the border alone. I fudge some details. I receive instructions on the Quarantine Act. The Immigration Officer allows me to enter.
A crisis causes the protagonist to see that external events are not the obstacle. The power to control life has always been through choice.
March 9, 2021 10:30 a.m.: An Immigration Officer arrives to confirm my compliance. I answer questions to the best of my ability and the officer appears satisfied. I have done all I can to keep Canadians safe. Most of all, I made an incredible effort as a parent and grandparent during the pandemic year.
March 9, 2021 3:30 p.m.: My pharmacy sends notice that I can schedule my first dose of vaccine. Reunions might be as close as six weeks. I will return to the United States with a new resolve to invest more effort in my own life.
What is your pandemic story?