The Mr. and I are fortunate in that we have remained at our jobs through the pandemic that sent so many people to unemployment websites. My office has had to respond to a decrease in business, but we will survive this – unlike many other businesses that have closed permanently. Neither of us has a job that can be performed remotely, so we have also been commuting to and from work five days a week – and this has lent a modicum of normality to our routine. We get up and go to work, return from work and make dinner and do a few chores. On the weekends we do some yard work or house projects.
But that’s pretty much where the illusion that everything is fine ends. I wear a mask for my train commute. We wear them to the grocery store, the hardware store, the produce stands – pretty much the only places that are open for customers. Meeting up with friends has gone online, which, after days full of online meetings at work, feels a lot less relaxing than it should. My office is devoid of employees, having sent them all to work from home I am the lone person in a 9,000 SF space; here to restart computers, load paper into copiers, get the mail, research old projects info that isn’t electronic, pay bills. The silence is deafening, and having walked through a deserted downtown tourist district that is usually busting at the seams with people, the solitude weighs heavily on me.
In the evenings I’ve been sewing cloth masks, since we are ‘encouraged’ (and in some situations, required) to wear them while in public. Social distancing means that even if I do get to see family and friends it’s from a distance, usually with a mask on, outside to reduce the risk of exposure. As an adult, I know this is a temporary inconvenience – but I worry for the children too young to have that perspective. Children like my granddaughter, who doesn’t understand why the playgrounds are closed and now assumes every person she sees is sick.
I worry for the people in domestic abuse environments, or with drug dependence, physical impairments, mental illness, or chronic health conditions. I worry for the people that are avoiding, or cannot get, routine health care right now. I worry for the people who cannot get financial assistance, or whose landlords are not abiding the emergency laws, or who are losing their livelihood.
I try to take sips of the news, as the overwhelming sadness is just too much in larger doses. I’ve been knitting a little, making soap here and there, and doing a lot of yard work when the weather allows. We are finally tackling some large landscaping projects that we’ve put off for years. The Mr and I have watched more movies and TV shows than is typical. I’d like to say the house is cleaner but that’s a lie – who is going to see it anyway? I’d also like to say that I’ve taken up a new workout routine, or that I’ve been eating better – also not true. Mostly I’ve been sewing masks, donating my time and a large number of the masks to people in need of them, charging for a few to help replenish the supplies. It’s a small gesture, but it’s something I can do, and people appreciate it.
We’ve been cooking at home, doing a little take-out here and there, and I’ve allowed myself a bit of comfort eating when the mood hits. I walk several miles every day, and try to remember to stretch now and then; digging has been the primary exercise lately and I suppose it’s a good one.
We are still grieving the loss of our loved one, not quite three months ago. We maintain the yard at his house so it doesn’t look as empty, have picked up some trash, go in several times a week to check on things. The family memorial is postponed until everyone feels safe to gather again, so grief is suspended in a weird way. His clothes remain in our house, clean and folded and boxed up, waiting for donation sites to open again. Cleaning out of the house is similarly on hold.
Everything feels like it is on hold.