The Awkwardness of Eating Cake (And Returning to School Campuses in the Fall Too)

Shelter-In-Place, Day: Who Knows Anymore, Really.


I ate cake this week. Not remarkable in and of itself. I like a good piece of cake. What hit me half way through the very nice slice of vanilla was that I was eating this particular piece of cake outside of my house with people who were not my immediate family. I can’t remember the last time I ate anything outside of my house, let alone with people not in my immediate Shelter-In-Place cohort, so this was one of those “new reality” moments for me. And for the record, it was a birthday celebration for a co-worker, at work, with proper physical distancing (not a COVID-19 party). And it was a bit awkward. Not because it was a birthday celebration. We used to have those at work all the time.

The awkwardness came from the dance of the physical distancing.

The 6 feet rule, the figuring out how to cut the cake for people who shouldn’t be using shared use items – pass the knife or pass pieces of cake? Trying to only touch one of the plastic forks when pulling it out of the box, unmasking to eat, re-masking to get seconds (yes, seconds!). Ok, it was more than a bit awkward, it was very awkward.

It was that kind of awkwardness like learning a new martial art. At first, you don’t know where your hands or feet should be, or which foot to place your weight on when, or how to move from point a to point b without looking like the tin man in need of oil. Those everyday things you take for granted like moving your arms and legs take conscious mental effort. Everything feels off. But then, after practice and repetition, it starts to become natural, and soon, conscious thought becomes routine and instinctive. Things start to FLOW.

There was no FLOW in eating cake this week, but I am ready to practice and repeat until it is as natural as walking again.

Coming back to school campuses in the fall is going to be awkward. It’s going to feel off. Initially, it’s going to take conscious thought, practice and repetition to do simple things we used to take for granted. We are going to have to be prepared to relearn how to do so many things. For all those thinking about jumping right back in to curriculum and content if/when we’re back on campuses, slow down. Take a step back. Deep breaths. We’re going to have to relearn how to walk again before we can run. But once we do, I’m confident we’ll be off to the races.

It’s just going to take some time before we all find FLOW.