We’ve been in our bunker for two weeks now, with only the briefest interactions with other people on milk-runs at Stop and Shop or at the drive-in lane at Dunkin’ Donuts.
The reason why we’re home in the bunkers is horrible – a global pandemic, which will endanger the lives of millions and possible usher into a giant recession. Already, 3.3 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week. Millions of kids aren’t being educated. My friends with small business are faltering.
The virus cast its shadow over my family this week, as a beloved uncle passed away from unrelated issues. With the social distancing imperative, we are unable to mourn together as a family. His wife couldn’t hold his hand in the hospital, until the very last minute.
But being a basically happy person, I can’t help but seeing signs, here and there, that all this social distancing is a much needed reboot of our very complicated, busy, self-involved lives.
Even though we’re social distancing from the rest of the world, Steve and Jonah and Ian and I are social un-distancing from each other. We’ve spent nearly every minute of the past two weeks together. We haven’t spent this much time together, since Jonah was a small baby and Steve and I finished our dissertations full time.
After that one year of togetherness, we’ve all gone our separate ways. Now, Steve works and commutes twelve hours a day. Jonah’s got his frat buds and his seminars at college half the year. Ian has school and summer camps. I’m here, as always, working in my little office, going to spin class, and maintaining the business of a house and home. I’ve got my own daytime friends and activities that don’t involve the others.
But all that is over. No spin classes. No PTA meetings. No Wall Street offices. No train commutes. No band class. No International Relations lecture halls. No frat drinking fests. No sushi on a Friday night. We’re just here hanging out together and living off my cooking.
Not going to lie. There were some adjustments. And adjustments are still happening as we decide whose job gets priority over unloading the dishwasher and whether we should badger the college kid to not fall asleep in front of Netflix on his laptop every night. But we’re working out the kinks with fewer flare ups and more cooperation.
Maybe our lives had gotten too complicated. Maybe Ian has too many after-school activities, and Jonah had too much on his plate at college. Does he really need an internship this summer? Not really. Is there any reason that my husband should go back to his office, with its three-hour daily commute, when he gets everything done here just fine? Maybe I’ve put too much pressure on myself for professional success, when there’s a pretty awesome spot in the backyard to stare at the birds and the plants.
The New York Times has a good article about how one party in Westport, CT helped to spread the disease. “The Westport soirée — Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond — is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed.” So no more parties for us; our weekend calendar is empty.
Without weekend dinner plans and jaunts to museums and shows, we’re just chilling out. So weird.
Now, I have to draw a line with all this domestic splendor somewhere. For me, it’s board games. Don’t talk to me about Jenga or whatever. I’m not even listening. I might occasionally bake, but I’m not breaking out any muffin tins on a daily basis.
In our own way, we’re social un-distancing quite a bit. If we’re not in the kitchen making a complicated soup, then we’re taking walks around the neighborhood, watching Mario Cuomo on CNN, or on our devices in the same general area. For us, that’s a good thing.
Be well! Laura