I hope everyone reading this is safe and healthy, despite a pandemic that has tossed our expectations of summer and its relaxing days like a trash can full of empty bottles. This week, I thought about what COVID-19 has taken away from us—the freedom to visit anybody in our families at any time, if we want to see them, the ability to catch up with a bunch of friends at a favorite restaurant, or to run up and hug someone you have not seen in months, or years. I am not a big shopper, but I missed my favorite local bookstore and now that it is open it is the one place where I will go and browse for about ten minutes, then leave with a smile and another book tucked under my arm. I avoid large grocery stores, preferring smaller spaces with fewer people. That is not new for me, I have never enjoyed shopping at large stores. Six aisles seem just about right. I wear a mask when outside of my home and it is not always easy, but breathing is something I learned not to take for granted when I was six, and had my first asthma episode. Wearing the mask may help me and others, and it seems a small price to pay to be part of this world.
But I have gained some new practices that have helped me get through this pandemic. I walk much more frequently, sometimes in the morning before work, at other times in the evening, at least on those days when the temperature stays below 90 degrees. In the beginning of COVID, I loved the quiet of the morning, and now that we have taken to our cars again, I wish we could bring some of that peace back.
Starting the morning with quiet time for reflection, a prayer, maybe some reading or meditation, seems to set the tone for the day. If I rush into my morning it feels like that defines the whole day, and I respond more to the urgency of the moment rather than thinking about where I need to focus.
I am on the phone and screens more now, so I can connect with people I cannot invite into my space. While I am grateful for this option, I look forward to when we can meet in person, because there is much to be gained by communicating real time, seeing how the body shifts in response to conversation, feeling that you don’t have to hit the unmute button to speak your mind. In time we will be able to do this, visit each other.
I miss dressing up to go out, summer concerts on the lawn or outdoor venues, live theatre, swimming in a pool, seeing my family in person, the trip to Virginia just before school starts, picking blueberries at the organic farm near home, eating hand dipped ice cream without worrying that the friendly sweet-faced teenager scooping butter pecan into the cup might have “it” and not know. I even miss coughing because of my allergies and not feeling like I need to say “It’s just the pollen, I’m fine,” having my friends up for our annual long summer weekend, and sitting on the bluff near Lake Michigan.
I am going to get through this, and I will take the moments of quiet, the long walks, the retreat from shopping and accumulating stuff with me when this is over. In the meantime, I’ll write more letters, call to check on people, especially my people who live alone. I would hate to waste all of this doing without and not finding out what really matters. We may have another several months of this, and I want to learn whatever I can from this moment in my life.