It’s been 94 days since I started working from home, started staying home as much as possible, started seeing businesses close and meetings canceled, started noticing that life as I knew it had changed basically within a couple of hours. My first reaction is: Wow, has it really been that long?
My second reaction is: I guess this is life now.
Many people I’ve talked with have expressed the same kind of sheepishness as I feel, of believing in mid-March that this would be over by mid-April. If I knew then what I know now … well, actually, I’m not sure I’d have had the strength to have made it this far. I may have just given up and gone to bed. I’ve been through a whole range of emotions since hearing about COVID on NPR in the early months of the year, from pity to shock to anger to not exactly acceptance, but understanding that this is the new reality and we will be dealing with this much, much longer than any of us thought.
We have three clusters of infection in our county, and went from 12 infections, all recovered, at the end of May to 81 on Saturday; I expect there’s more now. Oregon’s governor was considering Phase 2 openings (recreational sports, movies, bowling alleys, and “additional in-office work”) last week, but delayed all applications by seven days on Thursday because of how quickly cases were being identified in most Oregon counties. Seems like a good idea to me, although there are those who are complaining.
More of our businesses are opening, but it’s not business as usual. My favorite coffee shop reopened late last week, but has pushed tables farther apart and is requiring a mask for entry (good for them; I cannot believe how many people still aren’t wearing them). The bookstore has a table at the front door; you tell the clerk what you’re looking for and they’ll go find it, or you order ahead of time and schedule a pickup. I went to the stationary store because I needed new pens and was greeted at the door with a bottle of sanitizer that the clerk spritzed on my hands before I was allowed in. “You’re through fast today,” she said as I checked out, and I was like, yeah, because I’m terrified.
I’ve now had a haircut, acupuncture and reflexology. I’ve been impressed with the precautions each of these businesses have taken. I’ve been asked to stay in the car until called, wear a mask and load up on hand sanitizer, but that’s nothing compared to what they have to do themselves: So much cleaning. I try to be the best possible customer ever: I don’t take in anything that I’d have to set down, I only touch what I absolutely have to, I wear my mask throughout and I pay ahead of time if at all possible.
I’ve been thanked. I hope I’m not an anomaly.
I allowed Johanna to meet with a couple of friends on Sunday for the first time because she made me a PowerPoint presentation to plead her case and promised to practice social distancing, be outside the whole time and wear her mask. Apparently my introvert has had enough of being alone.
I’m not sure how to end this except to say that I don’t see anything changing in the US anytime soon. Cases will continue to go up, as will deaths. We’ll continue reopening even though there are now many, many more cases than when we initially shut down. People will ignore warnings and recommendations. I’ll ponder the feasibility of moving to New Zealand.
I wish I had an end date. I’m trying to be good without one.