I use a nearby road when I need groceries or head into Jackson. My new walking path runs parallel to this road which also runs parallel to interstate 94 (busy-busy). While I don’t encounter many walkers/bikers/joggers when I’m on the path, I’m amazed how busy both roads are as I lumber along. It’s common for me to sit in my Jeep at the Ann Arbor stop sign for a couple minutes while cars zip both ways doing 50 before I get my chance to sneak in. Until about a week ago. Now neither road is busy. Semi’s yes, cars-not so much.
Limbo. Not a word I like very much. I prefer my life to be in an orderly fashion. I’m not comfortable when my life’s in limbo. I don’t think many of us are. I tend to wear a perpetual frown trying to figure out how to get myself right. Waiting on word whether your offer on a new house was accepted or if your loan application was approved. Waiting to hear if you got the job. Passing the time praying about your test results. Waiting. Transition. Uncertainty. Limbo.
Our lives changed dramatically recently-all beyond our control. Others are making decisions about my welfare, (and yes I’m still of sound mind) what’s best for me. Social distancing, self isolation, quarantine. I can’t really get any less social unless I find a cave to live in on a deserted island. Life in limbo.
It’s been kind of unsettling. Never in my life have I experienced finding empty grocery shelves. Why that’s so unnerving I’ve not figured out yet. Streets without traffic, special allotted times for folks my age to grocery shop. Cars in the driveway during the day for the young couples living (now laid off) in our neighborhood. Restaurants with a few workers tending to the orders of their drive through customers, but without people milling around inside, enjoying their friend’s company, getting refills, running after kids. Not anything I’ve ever given a passing thought about-until recently.
Anyone who’s familiar with me or my blog knows I’m a loner and big time homebody. I love being home. My home is my sanctuary. Three or 4 days into a vacation and I’m so ready to come home. I want my own bed, my own bathroom and my own cooking. I have no problem being here for days on end. I bake, read, blog, stare into space and putz around. Clean when the dust gets too thick. But there’s something mildly sinister/foreboding about someone ordering me to, “stay home for cripe’s sake. You’re old and vulnerable.” It’s creepy.
I’m home 75% of the time, but after so many days I’m hit with an urgency compelling me to get out of the house. I’ve found 2 cures for this dilemma. An easy remedy is wandering through Meijer for an hour (which I’m now strongly discouraged from engaging in, although I am encouraged to shop from 7-8 a.m. two mornings a week so less people are in the store). My other fix is walking. An easy way to rid myself of the doldrums. I smile and sing funky songs as I walk. It’s highly unusual if I don’t return home in a much better frame of mind than when I left. A cheap, healthy upper for me.
You know if we’d been born back in the pioneer days, slowly making our way west across the country, isolation and social distancing would truly be our way of life. Whatever family was with you in your wagon before you staked your claim was pretty much your social circle too. It might be months before you made it to the nearest town or see your neighbor. Now that was some serious isolation right?
Hard to compare living in the 1800’s to this Corvid 19 virus driven isolation. But just check some of the benefits of being home quarantined in today’s world as opposed to ‘wagons ho’ isolation. Literally everyone I know has: a house or an apartment, heat, electricity, food, hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, shower, toilet, refrigeration, appliances to cook on, readily available healthcare facilities, doctors, cars, TV’s with hundreds of channel access to help pass the time, Internet to stay connected with friends, family or shop, grocery stores, a variety of takeout food from restaurants, pizza, tacos, when we don’t feel like cooking. The list is endless.
When I was growing up in northwest Iowa during the ￼’50’s and 60’s, Sunday’s reminded me a little bit of this recent isolation. No stores or restaurants were open. We got up, ate breakfast, went to church. When we got home we had a big dinner. Then Mom and Dad took naps (so boring, I couldn’t watch TV or go swimming). When Mom and Dad got up, we’d go visit my grandpa Lakey in Sioux Center, about 15 miles away. (Dad’s parents lived in Rock Valley and he’d stop in to see them every day). After an hour visit we’d drive back home and have a light supper or I’d head over to Char’s house. They had a huge family with a lot going on and probably didn’t notice me most the time. After a big supper and cleanup, it was time to head to church again. Youth group in the church basement then up to the sanctuary just in time for the sermon.
As far as self isolation goes, not much in our daily lives has changed. We were comfortable with our lifestyle, now it’s simply a requirement for a few weeks. Our weekly supper dates with Ari and Jovi have stopped. That’s been a definite downer but it’s an unnecessary risk.
Until a couple of days ago, I did not know one person with Covid 19. I still don’t but my son Joshua does. He texted me one of his poker buddies had contracted it, has been in the hospital for several days and was not doing well. He had no other health issues and had not been traveling. He died yesterday. He was married, 43 years old with 2 small children. It just puts in perspective how deadly serious this spreading virus is.
Still I remain hopeful and optimistic. I’m more careful (don’t touch your face-do not touch your face), far more cautious staying farther away from people (not in my realm, so anybody besides the Hubs) but I’m determined not to let this temporary way of life totally control every aspect or make me unreasonably fearful about my future. We’re gonna get through this and be stronger for it. But please don’t be lackadaisical about washing your hands. Frequently. With gusto.
Here’s one of my favorite walking songs by American Idol winner Phil Philips called Home…
Settle down, it’ll all be clear,
Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear.
The trouble-it might bring you down, if you get lost you can always be found,
Just know you’re not alone-cause I’m gonna make this place your home…