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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

Last February, if someone told me in a few short weeks that my family of four would be living together under the same roof again, I’d have said it’s preposterous, but also not a bad idea for a zany reality show.

Then again, this time last year we were still getting acquainted with the year 2020.

It’s hard to believe Jan. 21, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. The occurrence was reported in a patient living in Washington state.

Closer to home, the perilous discovery prompted my older son to boomerang back to his childhood bedroom.

Next month marks one year since my older son and his girlfriend traveled from the Bay Area to San Clemente for what they thought would be a quick trip. Instead, their weekend getaway morphed into a months-long stay.

In observance of this landmark anniversary, I took time to revisit my dated journal chronicling our fortuitous time together. I found a couple entries that, in retrospect, are understatements of epic proportion:

I think hoarding toilet paper might be a real thing—shopping at the grocery store is like being on a scavenger hunt.

We finished a puzzle tonight. I have a feeling we might be doing another puzzle in the coming weeks.

Reading my thoughts from last year, the first days of March were, dare I say, amusing—remember Tiger King?

But as the COVID-19 timeline exponentially intensified, my subsequent daily entries take a dismal downturn in tone due to the day-to-day reality.

As our economy started its downward spiral, it became apparent my son’s situation was not solitary. Because of the pandemic, an increasing number of the nation’s young adults (ages 18 to 29) found themselves living back at home with their parents—that’s the highest majority since The Great Depression.

Reflecting on our time in quarantine, I felt nostalgic, and my thoughts wandered to the last time my older son resided at home for more than an extended holiday vacation.

It was several years ago; he was barely 18 years old preparing to swap his childhood bedroom for a college dormitory.

Back then, my son spent his last few summer nights at home socializing with friends and celebrating at happy farewell gatherings.

I, on the other hand, spent the nights worrying and wondering if college would be the much-hyped best four years of his life.

At the end of the day, I survived the dreaded college drop-off ritual and returned home, where I spent most of my waking hours pining for the past and fearing the future.

However, with the passage of time comes clarity; I now see his leaving not as the end but a new beginning—for both of us.

When the pandemic struck last year, and my son returned home, I relished the opportunity to see who my adult son had become.

The statewide stay-at-home order gave me a glimpse into my son’s world that I didn’t think I’d get, and I treasure that time together.

Sure, the quarantine road became bumpy at times, but we managed to navigate the potholes. My son is one of the funniest people I know, and I like to think we share a similar sense of humor—in good times and bad.

The best part of my lockdown day was in the morning, when my son and I accompanied each other on walks through the neighborhood. Our heartening morning walks and talks are among my most memorable moments together.

As I mark our quarantine milestone, I realize if there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s my son’s return home and getting to know him as the young adult he is today.

I’ve told my son countless times how much I love him, but I sure hope he also knows how much I like him.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.

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