I did not think this current state of affairs would affect me as badly as it has. I thought this enforced “house arrest” would give me more time to do more things that I have been putting off for too long. But — truth told — none of this has happened.
I’m not as “isolated” as some, because I get in my car and drive to the supermarket, to the doctor’s office(s), to the pharmacy (after being at a doctor’s office!), and — once weekly — to JJ’s, which has its own story…
I have mentioned before that my Rotary Club — which has always met every Friday in person at JJ’s, but is now another online meeting — has retained our club’s allegiance for all these weeks. What we do now is gather around noon on Fridays — sometimes a bit earlier, maybe a bit later — outside the restaurant, and one-by-one we enter the alcove where someone on duty will meet us, and we give our individual lunch orders for takeout. This is about all we can do to help keep a favorite place from having to shut down forever. While we’re waiting, we have semi-virtual meetings — a bunch of masked folks, not getting together in a clump, but keeping distance from every single one except the one we may be talking to (which is usually our president) to find out how we can keep on with our community activities during this time.
That bit of personal contact supplements the now-regular weekly Zoom meetings, which I’m afraid I don’t attend. As a matter of fact, I have stopped attending any of the many that I get information about and invitations to. What saddens me the most at this time: I have always enjoyed regular, normal meetings with these same groups, but I fail to find the “virtual” ones even coming close to being satisfactory. I’m a “people person,” and isolation is not made any better for me by being part of them. When it comes to non-personal interaction, I vastly prefer email — both posted and received. I know that this in itself may seem a contradiction of sorts, but typing and reading are easier for me than trying to make sense of many microphone voices at the same time. (More truth told: My hearing is not the best, which would make today’s substitute-type meetings even more difficult for me.)
I did have one great experience in the past week: going out to dinner with a friend at one of the restaurants that has recently opened, with strict limits imposed. The two of us sat apart at a single large table, set far away from just a few other similarly occupied ones, and at this place, the old saying rings true: Two was company, but more than that made up a no-entry-allowed crowd. We did not have to call in advance for a reservation, just took our chances, and had no problem being admitted. All the people who worked there were masked, but none of us guests were, so we were able to eat, drink and converse comfortably.
Of course, I get regular updates from family in Pittsburgh about how the virus is being handled there. The city has a color system which I don’t understand, but everyone is now in “yellow,” which allows some business reopenings. Yes, there are some differences: For instance, their salon-type places were opened much sooner than ours, but their food market “freedoms” are much more limited than ours.
In the end, I guess none of this makes much real difference: We had no say about entering this endurance contest. This pandemic will die, as all do, eventually burning itself out, leaving us to adjust to yet another different, “new normal” kind of life.
Final truth told: All of us — not just those most unfortunate — are suffering from COVID-19. How are you faring? What will you most remember when all of this has someday faded into the past?