“How are you doing?”

This question is taking on so much more significance now. Our answers, or the ones we are waiting to hear, can reflect life-or-death health struggles, mental well-being, or whether or not we have access to food or a reliable internet connection. When I answer that question, instead of my normal reply of “good” or “great!” I can muster a semi-true, “I’m hanging in there.” 

At PDX Parent we’ve been working on stories to help you get through these difficult times. Like this one about sanity-saving tips for parents during COVID-19. Or a roundup of prepared meal delivery services for when you just can’t face the thought of cooking. (And if you wish that the slog of cooking dinner was the least of your worries, Partners for a Hunger-free Oregon has a list of food resources here.)

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I’ve been trying to find the ways to make the best of our situation. (And I recognize how privileged I am to be able to do this.) When my daughter asked about going to “that fried chicken place” for her birthday in July, I said, “We can go this weekend!” She was referring to Ezell’s Famous Chicken, which we had visited for the April Family Supper column before restaurant dining rooms had been shut down. We knew we’d have to get creative, since Ezell’s is 25 minutes away from us and everything would be cold if we waited to eat until we got back home. I had envisioned going and eating in our car, but my husband had the idea to turn it into a tailgate.

We ended up going on Easter Sunday. My husband picked up the phoned-in order and we drove across the street to a deserted office building parking lot. We got out folding chairs and laid a picnic blanket in the back of the minivan, brought our own utensils and disinfecting wipes, and chowed down on delicious fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn, fried okra, and baked beans. My husband had packed the kids’ scooters and helmets, so they could ride around the big, open space. Even though I worried we’d be kicked out of the parking lot (and because I am worried anytime I am outside of the safety of my house) it was a sunny and fun lunch tailgate. And I know the kids will look back at it fondly, “Remember that time we ate fried chicken in the parking lot for Easter?” It didn’t feel normal, but it felt infinitely better than “just hanging in there.”

Denise Castañon
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