After 15 days of living…
- in our house with a tiny back yard,
- watching cars go by from my office windows (“Why are you leaving your house?!” I demanded angrily as yet another 23 cars speed happily by as if there isn’t a pandemic going on),
- coordinating work via Zoom (the mute feature is genius),
- watching the news (craving information, but find a lot of opinions),
- checking Facebook (videos of musicians playing to neighbors in Italy and Spain are now my favorites),
- planning meals,
- organizing to-do lists,
- cleaning the house,
- calling and texting friends and family,
- and all the other things I keep doing during this lockdown
I could feel the not ok-ness creeping up on me.
Little things that generally don’t bother me, cause me to suddenly snap as if war has been declared.
Handsome made a comment about buying groceries at a different store, and I turned on him.
“This store serves fewer people, so it is better.” I insist loudly. “They have rubber gloves for employees and plastic shields at the cashier stations. Yes, it feels like a bank exchange or buying food from the local pawn shop but it is SAFER!! I don’t know if the other store even has that. Yes, the other store is cleaner and has better vegetables, fruits, and meats. But I’m doing the BEST I CAN, DAMMIT!!”
He seemed to understand. Especially after I explained that it took me almost two hours to finish grocery shopping. I was trying to keep my distance from everyone. Lots of turning around to avoid crowded aisles and waiting for other shoppers to get their bags of shredded Tillamook cheese or cans of chickpeas before I approached.
I struggled to identify the best veggies and fruit without handling them. When I would forget and grab one, I forced myself to just put it in the cart. It was a constant mantra in my head, “Don’t touch! Don’t touch! Don’t touch!!” Because little did I know that I apparently touch everything at the grocery store. The fruits, the veggies, the meat. Definitely, the meat. I think, “Oh, I’ll get this one…wait, it’s only 2 lbs…I need 5 lbs.” I put it back, grab another. Doh! Then, there are cans. It is impossible to see calories without turning the can around. Dah! So much touching!
Gloves are an absolute must at this point. Fortunately, I have plenty of plastic gloves and a mask at home, thanks to my affection for spray painting picture frames. I also have several handkerchiefs to wrap around my head if I need to. I would definitely look like I’m in an Old West movie if I wore one. As if I’m about to say, “This is a stickup,” when I’m next in the checkout line. That could either be awkward or just make us all laugh.
After this grocery experience, I added a mental note to keep all the options in my car from now on.
I’m trying to adapt to our new reality that feels scary and overwhelming. At the same time, I do a lot of the same things I’ve always done—cooking, cleaning, shopping, watching tv, reading books.
But, to be honest, I can’t seem to relax and enjoy…well, anything. That is how the tension grew to overwhelming amounts until I found myself yelling at Handsome about grocery stores.
I’ve heard people say to take this time and get stuff done. Create music. Or write a book. Or define a new scientific theorem. Or solve the world’s plastic problem. Or videotape yourself lip-syncing to the song Hello by Adele while smashing your face against your living room window. Do any or all the above!
It is all good, and it helps with the slipping sanity, at least a little bit.
But, after my flip-out, I realized all of my planning, shopping, updating, and organizing may have made me feel productive and useful, giving me a small sense of control over an out-of-control situation, but it also caused me to ignore my needs. My need to deal with fear and stress. My need to actually relax and breathe. My need to get a full night’s sleep and not have shoulders so tense the knots have knots.
Deep breath in. Now out.
I’m not ok, but that’s ok.
I apologized to Handsome.
He held me in his strong arms. He didn’t say anything. He just wrapped me up in a gentle but firm hug. At first, I tensed up even more. Then I laid my head on his shoulder and hugged him back. Feeling so thankful for this man who may not understand me all the time but tries to love me anyway.
We’ll get through this.
The pandemic won’t last forever.
Even if it feels like it.