Musings in the Time of Corona

by Ann

I just want to hug someone   Is what I felt so urgently one day when I suddenly came across a work colleague in public—the boss, actually. I was just so glad to see him.  I hadn’t seen anyone from work in weeks, although we’ve Zoomed and Teams-ed and Emailed.  I think I may have even told him I wanted to hug him, and I think he understood, but it was hard to tell behind the mask.  Since then, it’s become a burning need—to hug my family and friends, and yes, even my co-workers.  And I want the kind of hugs that last a while where you rock back and forth from foot to foot, and your ears get hooked up on each other as you de-hug.  Fair warning, my friends, family and colleagues should know what to expect when the day comes. 

Me, rocking my mask from home

I watched a video with accompanying story of a co-worker having that kind of hug with her cousin when she took a daring trip to Colorado during the quarantine to wish her cousin a Happy Birthday.  She got to hug her cousin!  I was deep green with envy.  It’s posted on COVID Chronicles Delaware and I’ll ask that they put a link in here somewhere so you can watch it too. I applaud her daring and her courage at the same time acknowledging it’s probably a good thing we’re not all of us so daring or so courageous.

“Surprise Reaction,” originally shared in the blog post “Traveling & Inner Turmoil During COVID,” by Alex on April 21, 2020

I miss doing errands.     You know the ones you do on the way home from work?  This is something I really took for granted—a simple delight.  Now I have to really make a case for going anywhere.  Is there anything I need?  If there is, do I really need it?  Do I have a clean mask, do I have gloves or sanitizing wipes?  What else do I need if I’m really going to do this?  Dare I? 

I’m tired of being careful and sick of wiping.    Who would have thought OCD would become a way of life for all of us?  It gives me a real sympathy now for those who are truly OCD afflicted.

I’m always exhausted after using Zoom.    Anyone else find it utterly depleting?  No one ever knows how to wrap up one of those Zoom meetings–even the family and friend’s kind, maybe, especially those kinds.  It’s so guilt-producing to be the first to say Gotta Go Now. Go to what?  Busted!  If Seinfeld was still airing, I know there’d be a whole episode on Zoom generated guilt. I understand there’s a New York Times article explaining Zoom fatigue, but I don’t care to read it.

I’m positive I’ve gained weight and I don’t really care.     I moved recently and haven’t gotten around to unpacking the scale.  I find comforting myself with sweets, helps. Right now I’m plowing through a quart of Woodside Dairy’s Motor Oil full fat ice cream. It’s $8.25 a quart and curbside pickup, if you’re interested. I also find myself taking the time to do stretching in the morning, and going on lots of nature walks, by myself and with friends. Yesterday my walking partner and I picked up a pizza at Gallucio’s, found a six foot park bench and ate it. The weather was glorious. I seldom wear makeup and I haven’t flat ironed my hair since the end of March. I keep thinking about this Tim Burton Batman movie from the late eighties where The Joker (Jack Nicholson, I think) puts some kind of nasty virus in beauty and self care products, so all the newscasters have cowlicks and pimples. I can’t say how the newscasters look these days because I never watch the news. My values haven’t changed drastically because I never watched the news before Corona either, but now I’m certainly blasé about bad hair days.

Action News still from Batman (1989).

And yet…

I’m loving the alone time.    That’s because I’m an introvert. Getting enough alone time to recharge my batteries was always a challenge, especially because I’m a people-person and I often overdo it. So this is blissful. For the first time in years, I’m actually without a stack of library books, so I’m re-reading all my favorites that I have copies of. Oddly, I don’t really want to read anything new. That addictive need seems to be a feature of the old life. I feel for extroverts though. It must be excruciating.

I’m much nicer to strangers out there.    I’ll wave to anyone when I’m in my car or out taking a walk. I smile at them behind my mask and hope they can see it in my eyes. I generally find half of them smile back and greet me too. The other half look down. I think they are afraid.

It’s a lot easier to feel my feelings these days.     I had a Pompeii worthy meltdown a couple of weeks ago when those stimulus distributions were being sent out. I was on a text thread with my sisters who were talking about finding worthy COVID19 charities to donate their stimulus payments to because they didn’t really need them. Six or seven hours later all this underlying fear I didn’t know I was suppressing just erupted through a big old fat crack I didn’t know was there. Wasn’t I a worthy charity? I whimpered. What happened to family first? I wailed. My income had gone down, but not completely gone away.  I felt much better the next day.  And, here’s the miraculous thing. A friend called me up later that day to say she didn’t need her stimulus check and could I use it? I accepted, something I think I would have had big trouble doing pre-Corona. I’m going to give some of that money to a worthy charity, by the way.

I suspect I’m a nicer person than I used to be.    I don’t know this for sure, but if it’s true I hope it lasts. I’m more willing to show affection and accept help, I’m enjoying the small pleasures life brings, not caring so much about superficial things, being gentle with my fears and letting them pass on, knowing when I’ve had enough and how to comfort myself, being more generous, open and understanding to others. It’s a small miracle really. I think there are a million more miracles out there happening right now.  I just knew something good would come from this.