#Pocalypso | Overnight Text Message: Preocupada

2020-03-24 – If you see me putting the back of my wrist to my forehead in a kind of woe-is-me gesture, don’t worry. I’m not giving up. I’m just checking for fever.

My mom used to kiss my forehead for the same reason, when I seemed under the weather. I can’t kiss my own forehead, so I use the back of my wrist. I’d kiss your forehead, but that’s hard to do while simultaneous maintaining six feet of social distancing. I can’t even check you with the back of my wrist at that distance.

Keeping distance is the new normal, but it is sometimes hard.

Today is the day my immigration client is scheduled to sign her visa petition. I’ve done three of these before and the day of signing has been a kind of cross between a real estate closing (lots of papers to sign) and a fiesta. Assembling the petition is an arduous process and the signing marks the end of that phase. It’s a day of hope, because, if granted, the undocumented immigrant will become documented.

No fiesta today.

But we still have to get the papers signed, while social distancing. There is no choice. There is a deadline. So yesterday I had a Zoom conference with the client and the interpreter to go through the papers and answer any questions. For today I arranged to meet them in a parking lot for five minutes. The plan was for everyone to stay in their cars and I would slip a clipboard with the papers in their windows for signatures. And hopefully, no one touches anything. (I have wipes just in case.)

My interpreter sounded worried. In Spanish the word is “preocupada.”

English has a similar word with a similar meaning: preoccupied. It’s similar but not exact. There’s really two meanings. It could mean that you are “lost in thought.” Or it can mean that you have an “extreme or excessive concern with something.”

These days, we are all preoccupied.

So in the middle of the night, I got a text message from the interpreter in Spanish suggesting a different procedure for getting her signatures. Even though I am a beginner with Spanish, I understood the message instantly. I am preocupado, tambien. I am also worried.

So I immediately texted her back: okay, I’ll give you details in the morning. I didn’t want her (or me) to be preoccupied through the night with not knowing how I would answer her question. I will still “meet” the client in the parking lot and finish up this case.

It’s one last thing from the normal days that I won’t have to worry about anymore. I’ll get started with the next client after the crisis is over.

We’ll have the fiesta in a few months.

In the meantime, I’ll put my wrist to my forehead.

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