Little Pleasures Gone Missing

Queen Ann's Lace with BindweedThe daily and weekly routines Stephen and I once had have been lost to the Covid 19 virus. Things we took for granted–trips to the library, going to the movies, eating in restaurants, and more have all been sacrificed to our safety. We must avoid exposing ourselves to a virus that can take a life with one simple breath. Although I have been alive for many years, this is like nothing I have ever experienced. I find it remarkable how my life has changed from what it was a mere few months ago. If you had told me last fall what my life would be like today, I might not have believed you. I certainly could not have imagined it.

I did have peripheral experience with a polio epidemic when I was growing up. I remember summers of rampant polio cases in the 40’s. Prior to the vaccine that eradicated poliomyelitis, many children succumbed to it. There are still adults today with legs crippled from polio as children. One of my sixth-grade classmates caught it. As I recall he was paralyzed and placed in an iron lung. I have a memory of seeing him in it, only his head visible. One parent I knew wouldn’t let her children drink any water that wasn’t bottled. She even made them brush their teeth with bottled water. Children, who were especially vulnerable, were supposed to avoid the beach also, though I am not sure why. Perhaps it was for the same reason we avoid crowds today for fear of Covid 19.

Losing our small pleasures is an insignificant price to pay for staying safe. Wearing a mask in public is a courtesy Stephen and I are glad to practice. It is like saying, “I care about you, stranger, and I want us both to stay safe. How long will it be before Stephen and I go to a movie theater again? I have no idea and I won’t even try to guess. The Spanish flu of 1918 took many lives and lingered even into i920. My own grandfather died from it. My grandmother, as was the custom, wore black for seven years. My mother told me that was the reason my father never wanted her ever to wear black.

It is strange to me that the tenor of our days has so altered. Before the onset of Covid 19, My life held few surprises. I never thought twice about going to the library or to a movie—and suddenly, I no longer could. It was just not there to do. Fortunately for us, Stephen has collected a quantity of videos o all kinds, and we could even make our own popcorn if we wanted. Yet I have come to understand that it’s not the film but the experience: going to the theater, sitting with others laughing or weeping, that I miss. I can get takeout from a restaurant, but I don’t get to hear the other diner’s murmur of conversation or get to chat with the waiter. When the day comes that we can mingle freely, without face coverings or fear, I will rejoice. Until then, while I may mourn my missing enjoyments, I’ll not risk my life for them.

How Is Everyone Doing?

Gianni at the tableI do not remember much changing in my life when I was growing up. My parents living room furniture never altered. The house looked the same except that once after years of my mother’s complaints it was painted red. We never moved; my father kept the same job, the list goes on. World War II brought certain kinds of changes, yet nothing close to what we have recently gone through with the advent of Covid 19.

This experience could be called a kind of war, yet the conflict is not between peoples but between all of us and an invisible, yet deadly foe. The rapid changes we have all endured have been part of the battle, weapons to fight this insidious and life-threatening enemy. The normal days we have all been living have been whisked away, replaced by a new normal that includes masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.

Some are eager to get back to “normal,” as they think of pre Covid 19 times. What that means for some is one thing, for another, something different. Yet whatever the old normal was, it’s differs greatly from whatever is happening now. Perhaps we have been given an opportunity to look more closely at what has been and make a decision as to whether or not we want to return—assuming we can, or whether we wish to create something new and different with our lives.

The old normal for Stephen and me held trips to the library, now of course closed. It held occasional visits to a movie theater, Dinners or other meals at a variety of restaurants, checking out discount stores, time spent in a favorite thrift store and Saturday yard sales. Most likely we will resume some if not all of these activities, but it may be that we will not do so with the same frequency. For us, it has been rather nice just being home. It’s peaceful. In addition, we have saved a lot of money on gas, as well as on restaurant meals and the acquisition of fun but superfluous items.

Staying out of stores unless we are buying necessities does not seem to me to be difficult to continue doing. If I really wanted to, I could shop on line although I don’t. Shopping has never been important for me unless it is for something I really need or want. For many people it is a form of entertainment. I’d rather read a book or watch a funny DVD from our collection. Too, creative writing—poetry and prose forms an important part of how Stephen and I like to spend our time. That is not going to change, nor is the fun we have cooking together.

A everyone knows, how we as a people spend our time has changed as a result of Covid 19. Many will have discovered the joy of hobbies, of passing time together as a family, and of course, being outdoors in nature. These are healthier pursuits than shopping. Sedentary activities like watching sports are not as good for us as playing them. It is said that it takes forty days to change a habit. We’ve had more time than that to make positive changes in our daily lives. May that have been enough.