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As a lifelong asthmatic, I went to work from home before the governor shut down the state and ordered social distancing. I’m in my sixth week of isolation, and I’ve learned some things about myself and the very few people with whom I interact during this period.
I’d been retired for almost a year when Richard convinced me to join The Bulletin team, so I knew from experience that the days would not drag by in some Kafka-esque fashion. Days have ways of filling up with things to do.
What’s been eye-opening is the caring of neighbors for one another. I’m fortunate to live just a few houses down from my sister, Kellie, and her family. She cooks a few meals for me each week and leaves them out in the planter by the front door. A text alerts me that she’s come and gone, and the food is there. She wears gloves and uses paper plates from the middle of the stack.
My backyard and across-the-street neighbors never fail to wave, and across fences and streets, we converse loudly enough to be heard. At some point in each conversation, the predictable question gets tossed around: “Are you okay?” It seems like we’re mostly okay.
I have one neighbor who, well, we don’t share a strong bond of affection for one another even though (perhaps because) we could – if we wanted – toss rocks into one another’s back yards. Even he and his wife and I are waving at one another the last few weeks after ignoring one another for years. It’s not a big gesture, except for the part that it is.
The other day, I was letting Toby – my Yorkie – do his business in the front yard, when a truck slowed and stopped. It was Bob Diven. He leaned against his tailgate and I stood under a mulberry tree. Normally, Bob and I visit just about every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, so we hadn’t seen one another for at least six weeks. It was cool to catch up.
Even before COVID-19 I had – like I suspect many of you have – a love/hate relationship with social media, particularly Facebook. In this time of isolation, however, the love side of the equation is winning. People seem more open to chatting and sharing jokes and videos, and these interactions and shared materials do more than just pass the time. They remind us we remain connected. We’re checking on one another. “Are you okay?”
On Monday, April 20, my second granddaughter was born. When my first granddaughter was born, I was at the hospital. Not this time. No visitors. Besides, a hospital is the last place I want to visit right now, even when the occasion is so very momentous. My son and I exchange text messages – a LOT of text messages – and he sends me photos, and we share video calls. I may not physically hold little Giuliena for a while, but she’s already wrapped herself around my heart.
I get lonely, and sometimes I get a little bored, but the episodes are few, and they pass quickly enough. Because I’m the only human on my little plot of land, I don’t have other people’s quirks grating on my nerves. My critters keep me company in their own ways, and the occasional yard and street shoutings, combined with social media, make this bearable.
COVID-19 is no joke, and it’s no fun, but I think the answer for most of us is, yeah, we’re okay.