On Thursday night, Steve and I drove through the hills of our town to take Ian to a cooking class run by a local organization that grows their own vegetables and teaches kids how to cook them. This particular class is aimed at older special ed kids. Ian, being on the boarder of special ed and typical, is higher functioning than anyone in the class, but he doesn’t mind. He’s just happy to get out of the house and do stuff.
After dropping Ian off at the “Health Barn,” we went to a local tavern; a nice dungeon-y sort of place with a fireplace, deep armchairs, and old pictures on the wall. We had an 1-1/2 hour date night there with wine for me and beer for Steve, a bowl of spicy mussels, and a fancy pizza with prochutto and arugula.
We couldn’t stop smiling. It was our first time sitting at a bar since February. It was our fist date night out without Ian in months, too; with his seizure issue, we haven’t felt comfortable leaving him home alone.
When the pandemic first hit, we hoarded food and home supplies. With empty shelves at the supermarket, we stocked up on toilet paper and paper towels when they were available. We filled our freezer with meat. And I set up a second pantry with canned goods down in the basement.
Now, we’ve eaten our way to the bottom of the freezer and brought the last can of black beans up the stairs. The mountain of toilet paper will last another few months. At some point, I’ll stock up on food again, but I don’t feel that pressure yet.
Right now, I’m hoarding experiences. We’re trying to do everything that might get taken away from us soon, like wine-tasting weekends with friends and spontaneous date nights in bars. We might fly an aunt up from Florida to stay with us for a month, because she’s terribly lonely. I am getting new contacts and keeping my hair in good shape. Steve’s sore tooth will be treated soon.
The college kids know that their days might be numbered, too, so they are appreciating every day away from prying parents and pesky siblings. There was another crime problem at Jonah’s school – an armed invasion of an off-campus college house — last week. Between the shoot out two weeks ago and this house invasion, he knows that we might yank him back home at any time, even if he doesn’t get COVID.
Even though COVID rates haven’t skyrocketed when they opened schools a month ago, the kids still have an abbreviated schedule. I imagine that school officials don’t believe that these rates will stay constant. The problems doesn’t seem to be originating at schools, but in certain communities with large multi-generational families crammed into small apartments, who also attend indoor religious or social gatherings.
Will those infection hot spots will spread the virus to the wider community? Will be back to the nightmare of March and April? I don’t think so. The masks seem to be working, and they are worn universally around here. Also, workers like Steve are staying at home, perhaps permanently, so they’re not breathing in fetid air on trains and subways or touching the buttons in elevators in office buildings. Still, nobody is sure.
Meanwhile, people are fortifying their homes at an almost frenetic pace. Contractors are cross and over-worked. Our contractor left before even putting new switch plates on the walls, after refinishing our downstairs family room. With zero hope of getting him back here, we had Ian finish the job for us. Not only are people doing big jobs, like putting on new roofs and replacing old windows, and repairing things that have broken with everyone at home, they are doing little jobs, too. We’re painting some old kitchens chairs and getting pictures framed. Our home has never looked better.
Why all this home improvement? Partially, it’s because we’re home looking at the problems every day. Partially, it’s because we’re bored. And partially, it’s because we’re worried during the long winter, we won’t have access to basic services and help again.
People who have had near death experiences say that they now look at life differently. They appreciate every day and take up new hobbies like skydiving and mountain climbing. I’m trying to do the same thing. I’m sucking the joy out of every day, because tomorrow… who knows?