First we all measured this situation by days and then by weeks, and now the days string together and I’m not always sure if it is Tuesday or Wednesday.
By now, we are seasoned pandemic participants. We know how to kill a month by staying inside and following the rules. Cross that one off the bucket list.
As the days morph into weeks and the weeks possibly into months, I wonder: How are you doing? What are you doing to pass the time? How are you staying safe? Are you lonely or scared? Is your family wearing on you or are you finding you enjoy them more than you thought you would? For me it’s the latter.
Sometimes, though, the days get long. There is only so much cleaning, cooking and TV binging anyone can do. Some days, despite my best intentions, I can’t seem to get anything done. It’s as though I’ve lost my oomph.
Some of us have sewn masks. Others are wearing them. When we do have to venture out for milk or eggs we are furtive, dodging oncoming customers in the toilet paper aisle. Trying not to breathe the same air — just in case. We carry hand sanitizer in our pocket and use it immediately upon leaving the grocery store. We try not to rub our eyes or touch our face.
People who are considered essential employees go out each day into the unknown. They come home and peel their clothes off and hop into the shower. And then get up the next day to do it all over again. Thank you.
Many of us have had to skip large family gatherings. We have canceled birthday parties, spring break trips, Easter dinners, Sunday fun days and even postponed weddings and funerals.
Our daughter and her family live about half a mile from us. We haven’t seen them in nearly a month. Visitors aren’t allowed at my dad’s assisted living facility, and he doesn’t understand why. We all have similar stories to tell.
Students are now experienced distance learners. My senior in high school has actually been doing quite a bit of school work and he’s much more communicative about it than when he was in the regular classroom. We’ve discussed economics, how to arrange food in the refrigerator, local government and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Those discussions have been a plus.
Another plus — I don’t have to wonder who will be home for dinner. We’re all here every night, and we sit around the table together for our meal. It hasn’t been this way since they were in elementary school.
I thought I’d thoroughly stocked up on food, but things are thinning out. Over the last three weeks we’ve gone through 10 dozen eggs. One son eats four every day for breakfast so he’s guilty for two-thirds of the overall consumption. We ran out of peanut butter more than a week ago. So far so good on the toilet paper situation. (Whew!)
We watch TV together at night because no one can go out. We used to watch more news. We’ve pared it down to about half an hour a day — just to stay informed. More than that gets depressing. During the day I like shows that make us laugh out loud. “Impractical Jokers” and “The Carbonaro Effect” are two favorites. At night I’m up for something creepier like “The Outsider” or “The Man in the High Castle.” We just started watching “Ozark” last night.
Every evening we test our lung capacity by timing how long we can hold our breaths. When we exhale, we watch for coughing. So far we are all good and holding in excess of a minute. One night I made it past two minutes. I’ve always wanted to be an over-achiever.
We sleep in later and stay up later than pre-pandemic. Our schedule has slowed. We wait for word that we can return to normal, although I’m not sure that will ever truly happen. Like 9/11, COVID-19 has changed us forever. I do believe we will have a new normal, someday — hopefully soon.
Each of us is dealing with the pandemic and stay-at-home directive in our own way. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can with what you have. I think we all are. In the meantime, know that I’m thinking about you and am wondering how you are doing. Take care.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.