I wake up every morning now and say, “What fresh HELL is this?”
Some nights, the creases are barely in my pjs and I pop out of bed — up at some heathenish hour, unable to sleep for all the worried thoughts stuttering around in my head.
What kept me awake last night?
Come morning I was heading to Home Depot as soon as they opened, hoping to get my hands on some disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. The thought of not being able to find those items wasn’t the issue keeping me from sleeping.
No, it was the thought of being in a store with other people.
People who might have the virus.
I shouldn’t have made a decision to go to the store at all. I’m immunocompromised because I don’t have a spleen, but I wanted the items on my list. And I wanted some potting soil. There, I said it. A nonessential item. Please don’t judge me.
Anyway, unable to sleep, I got up at 1:45 am and did some design work on the computer and then prickly with anxiety, left the house at 5:48 to venture into the dark of the morning. It’s eerily quiet at that time, you know? More so now.
Well, what do you know? There was only one other customer in the store and I saw only four staff people. We all managed a good 6 plus feet between us, until I got to the cash register, that is.
If this situation goes on much longer, I fear that I may become an extrovert. I don’t usually chat up store staff, but, times being what they are… I bet the nice Home Depot cashier was awfully relieved when I finally left.
We’re all changing, mutating, if you will. How can we not? Our landscapes have been reduced to the size of a postage stamp. After my first week of denial, it all became very real when I accepted these situations:
I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my mom who’s in a memory care facility nearby. The last time I saw her was March 10.
No more Pickleball.
No salon haircuts. I’m going to be sporting homemade haircuts. Fortunately, very few people will see the wreckage. There’s that.
Some of my friends worry that they’ll start talking to themselves. I’ve always done that, but now I’m talking to my automated room vacuum. Mr. French, the name I've given my vacuum, got an earful the other day when it neglected my bedroom.
Of course, I’ve always talked to my dog, Jemma, but I fear she’s growing tired of my babbling. She's lucky she isn't aware that this situation could last for quite awhile.
How many emotions did you rollercoaster through when you first found out that the perimeter of your life was going to become very, very tiny? I spent a good deal of time being just plain angry. Most of my anger was directed towards the hoarding public. I’m still enraged, but it has tempered somewhat because given the amount of venom directed towards those folks on various social media channels, it’s hard to imagine they’re not feeling at least a twinge of guilt.
Dangerous thoughts come into our heads during times like these.
I thought about going to all the stores and buying up every bit of the dental floss. Those people who were already conscientious about their teeth would have no concern. They were prepared. But the hoarders will find themselves at the end of all this with bad breath and gingivitis. And huge dental bills.
Maybe what we need to do is to push ourselves to be more humane, rather than less. It’s too easy to succumb to fear and paranoia. If we can manage to learn a foreign language during our sheltering in place, certainly we can learn to develop our better sides. Use this time to regularly reach out to others in need, to our friends and family, to remind them and ourselves that our humanity is still there even though it’s being tested.
Stay safe. Stay well.