Altered Spaces

by Courtney Nickel
inspired by Asimina Mobley’s mini-lesson

Sunday, March 8  4pm
I hustled around Trinity Sportsplex frantically decorating and making sure everything was in order for my son’s 8th birthday party.   28 children (mostly boys) arrived with their parents.  They ran around the astroturf and kicked soccer balls.   They battled their parents in a dodgeball tournament (of course the parents won).  We called them for pizza.  Each child washed their hands before sitting down to eat, because that virus was starting to really hit in the US.   Kids were crammed shoulder to shoulder and dipped their hands into the bowls of chips.   We wore gloves as a precaution as we served pizza to each child.   When it was time for Carter to blow out his candles, I thought to myself “I hope the parents are thinking about germs on the cake.”   Kids returned to the soccer area and had an epic nerf battle.  Sweaty and satisfied, the kids leaned in for a picture.  Click.  A wonderful birthday memory captured forever. 

Friday, March 13 4pm
Florida schools are officially shut down over the next two weeks due to potential threats of the Corona Virus. 

March 20
We will be switching to E-learning for the next two weeks.

April 1
From the Florida DOE: We will not be returning to school until May 2.  

From there it became a pattern.  Waiting, isolation, social distancing and then an announcement.  No more school.  No more gatherings.  E-learning and drive-thru birthday parties.   Parents canceled venues and switched to decorative lawn signs and pop-up tents.   Lawn chairs sat in driveways and people, masked up, handed presents out of cars.  “Don’t get too close,”  was heard from the parents of the birthday boy.   Horns honking replaced the sound of children laughing and high-fiving.  Quarantined shirts became the new party attire and posters and balloons taped to cars replaced the themed décor and Happy Birthday signs that would be hanging amidst a traditional party.   No more pizza and birthday cakes and trying to nab a seat close to the birthday child.   No more hugs goodbye for friends and “thank you for coming to my party.”  

May 2020
We will finish the semester online.  Graduations have been postponed.  End-of-the-year exams are canceled.  No proms.  No final goodbyes for the class of 2020.   13 years of schooling with no finality.  No hooplah.   So many sick.  Hospital beds unavailable. 

Not the year we were all picturing.   When will we return to normal?  Or does our normal no longer exist?


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