Now my hobbies are a little different. Last weekend, I made five different types of bread. This weekend we have big walking plans.
For most of my adult life, I lived in different cities of my mother and father. After all these years of only staying in touch with intermittent phone calls for a month, my parents were essentially the only people I spoke to face to face.
At the end of January, as the coronavirus epidemic became more serious in mainland China, the CNN office in Hong Kong closed and I was asked to work from home. At first, I appreciated the novelty of wearing my pajamas at work meetings. But over the weeks, my 370-square-foot (34-square-meter) studio only shrank and the working days and weekends merged into each other.
So, in early March, I decided to work for two weeks at my parents’ home in New Zealand.
I left my cat with a volunteer friend and headed to New Zealand, which at the time had only a handful of cases. I had the vision of going to see my brother’s group playing and going out with my best friend. Although my parents are in their 60s, they are both fit and healthy, and we didn’t feel like we were putting them in danger.
For me, the challenges were more minor. There have been times – like when I was asked to tidy up my room – when I felt like I was going back in time.
But in many ways, it’s not like being a teenager again. All of this is completely new.
Mom takes walks in the neighborhood and reports on what everyone is doing. A WhatsApp group for our street that has been set up for the pandemic keeps us informed of all the latest news (“Gray warblers spotted outside”).
Every day we listen to the always calm New Zealand director of health, Ashley Bloomfield, announcing the latest issues of coronavirus cases. In the evening, we often take out the daily newspaper and take the general quiz, a must in New Zealand office culture.
When my family recalls this tumultuous period, it is difficult to know what we will get out of it. Maybe we will just be relieved that it is over. But I hope we will see this as a time when we were able to learn to coexist as adults – a time when my parents were not only my mother and father, but also my co-workers.