I haven’t left the house or yard for 2 weeks now.
Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement. I did help with the pre-social-distancing grocery shopping back on Sunday March 15th.
So, more truthfully: I’ve been mostly in lockdown mode for 2 weeks, and I haven’t left the house at all for 11 days.
To a large degree, very little on the surface of my life has changed. I’m fortunate that I can still do my work from home, so my weekdays are as busy as they’ve ever been. It isn’t even that much of an adjustment for shifting to working from home all week—since I had to do exactly that during November when my elbow was broken and I wasn’t legally allowed to drive anywhere.
Matt has been a telecommuter ever since we moved here to Boston, so him working from home is a complete nothing-burger. We don’t have kids, so we don’t have to cope with the side effects of school closures. And I’m mostly a homebody, so these quiet evenings reading and writing and watching bad TV aren’t really all that different from my quiet evenings pre-COVID.
In many ways, little has changed. And yet everything feels so different.
Call it the change in perspective.
No matter how much of an introvert I am, there’s a huge tonal difference between deciding to spend a quiet weekend at home because I’ve been busy at work and feel like a little nesting, as opposed to how things feel now. Right now, quiet weekends are stretching ahead of me for I-don’t-know-how-long.* That puts a lot more pressure on the nest, even for an introvert like me.
There’s also the pressure of watching the ripples from COVID travel through my circle of friends, relatives, and chosen family. The beautifully talented young man whose Broadway debut has been indefinitely postponed. The talented costume designer and Broadway dresser who’s out of work and had to flee her city in order to protect her compromised immune system. Former colleagues from the arts & culture sector in Philly who have been laid off as theaters and museums have been forced to close for the foreseeable future. Medical professionals, or spouses of medical professionals, who are facing unprecedented stress and challenges without adequate equipment of any sort. Friends who have (probably) contracted COVID, or whose family members may have contracted it.**
In the midst of so much uncertainty, I have found myself clinging to a few small, daily rituals that are bringing little kernels of certainty into my day. Normally, I’m the kind of person who’ll wear the exact same T-shirt every night of the week when I get home from the office. Similarly, I’m the kind of slob who’s happy to re-use my coffee mug or water glass for days at a time.
Not in these days of COVID.
Instead, I am choosing a fresh outfit every morning before “clocking in” at work. And I’m keeping that outfit on pretty late into the evening–changing into my PJs right before settling into bed. It’s a new coffee mug every day, too.
And every night before lights-out, I read at least a few minutes’ worth of Shakespeare.
I can’t yet articulate why these few things have become such touchpoints for me.*** But even if I can’t tell you exactly why these small rituals are such a source of comfort of to me, I can absolutely attest to the comfort they’re providing.
So: what bits of certainty are the rest of you finding in the midst of all of this everything?
* I’m guessing at least 2 more months. Things are bad out there.
** With tests as rare as hen’s teeth, it’s hard to know for sure, sometimes. But based on the frequency of probably-COVID-but-can’t-get-tested cases just in my small circle of the world I can guaran-damn-tee you that our numbers are being WAY underreported.
*** As the days pass, it may become clearer for me?