There are the things we are not doing just now, but more interesting are the things we may never do again, the things we might do less often, and what we might do instead. But first, confession.
Yes, it’s true I ordered yarn. The colors at left are close to how they will look when they arrive tomorrow, except the color at the bottom is not gray (as it might appear); it’s a pale smokey violet, one of my favorite colors that I use often in warps of all colors. And the terrible thing is that none of these colors works into either of the warps I am considering next. “Strawberry” wants reds and pinks and a particular soft sage green. “Carnival” wants variegated super-bright primaries plus spectrum green all in the same yarn.
We have not attended a party or traveled more than we absolutely must to get food and mail and for my root canal. We venture out in masks and sanitize before touching anything. We strip down and wash all our clothing when we get home again. We have not seen any family members except online, and not often enough even there. We have, once each, been handed things on the beach—a shell, a scrap of paper—by people we know and who have been self-isolating. We held our breath while that exchange occurred. We washed carefully after. We did not touch our face.
I think we never need to enter Safeway again. When we were in college in Seattle, the local Safeway was a terrible place, Pike Place Market was perfect, but there were no local farmers markets as there are in Seattle now. Safeway was always being sued for unfair and illegal employment practices, losing those suits, and then going right on doing underpaying women employees or violating other laws. Gary went to the local Safeway the other day for the first time in over two months. As a former grocer he was genuinely distressed by both the running of the store and the carelessness of customers. Costco and Natural Foods and even Freddie’s have offered better shopping experiences. I miss the Portland Farmers Market very much, and we might go again someday. Someday soon, I hope. A day trip the way we used to two times a month to buy vegetables. The Market is set up with fewer, spaced-out stalls and with limits on the number of shoppers allowed in order to maintain distancing.
We do not need paper napkins ever again, and we’ve been using the same roll of paper towels for three months. It is only half gone and I think should last us through the summer. Gary uses a paper towel to wipe out my cast iron pans. I use a piece of a paper towel to wipe up egg white from cracking eggs on the counter. The sponges and cloths and napkins go into the washing machine.
Gary has not bought a lottery ticket since January, but he probably will again when it’s safe to touch a keypad. We rarely ate out—not at all now—but probably even more rarely in future. Hotels? Will we visit the Kennedy School and The Sylvia Beach Hotel? Drive to Victoria to stay at Elaine’s? Perhaps we will. Movies in theaters on the other hand? Good riddance. I have always thought that films people insist “must be seen on a big screen” must also be weak if that is the only way they are impressive. I can sit closer to the my TV in a dark room, turn the sound up too loud, and mimic the movie theater experience without people talking behind me or a man coughing on my neck. Live theater on the other hand will revive, at least I hope so. There is a critical connection between performers and audience, an experience impossible to replicate at home.
“A huge majority of respondents in The Post’s early May poll — 82 percent — said they opposed the reopening of movie theaters more than any other category of business (with gyms not far behind). Another mid-May survey found that even if the cost was the same, only 13 percent of respondents would prefer to watch a first-run movie in a theater as opposed to their living rooms.”—The Washington Post
We obviously have internet, though no cable or other regular television. That decision was made last summer. We paid to stream a movie the other day, the first time we’d done that. Though we watched at midday and the room with our television is bright with windows and two skylights, the experience was good. We will likely do that again. We also have Netflix and Acorn and BritBox at the moment, which collectively cost considerably less than our old cable bill. Amazon is a concern. We have Prime, but are trying to use only the videos and MarketPlace for Gary’s used CD orders. Eventually, despite a future without Mrs. Maisel, we will cut Prime. Putting entertainment where our voice says?
Going forward, I have been running. Saturday I managed eight minutes in two minute intervals. This morning I will pull out new shoes and try for ten minutes [I managed eleven and am now running every other day with very gradual increases in time]. I have running tights and my Ghost 12 shoes and will fake the rest. Though I kept gear, I discovered that I have no sport bras, not a single one saved. So I went online to Title Nine the other day and ordered a bra. It will be June before I have it. In the past, I always felt I had to earn the right to purchase gear, and I did myself harm by not starting out with the right shoes, bras, and running tights. Not this time. I will do better.
Today is Memorial Day, the day we are supposed to honor those who fought (and died) for the safety of our nation. Among my immediate relatives are my father who fought in the Army as far as Germany, and my aunt who was a Marine in San Francisco. My mother-in-law and father-in-law also served during WW2.
For all the flag-waving and whining about “freedom” I think the people protesting the lockdown mean for others to die for them, while they refuse to rise to this challenge. I know some people who are barely inconvenienced at all while others work in hospitals and grocery stores and delivery, dangerous occupations. I know people working from home and families with no income at all. I know people who ignore the rules about travel and distancing and also those with preexisting conditions that make them particularly vulnerable and cautious.
One hundred years ago communities struggled to cope with a disease that had no vaccine or reliable treatment. The communities and entire cities that practiced rigorous social distancing, isolated the sick, and those that took these unpopular precautions longest, faired best. Fewer people died and local economies bounced back faster where the isolation lasted longest. We have, in fact, a great deal of evidence to support a conservative approach to reopening. It isn’t merely computers modeling what the future is likely to bring, it is the lived experiences of great and great great grandparents.
Human beings have always existed in groups. We are not solo individuals but communal. We agree to rules in order to better support one another. One of our rules should be that we do what is best for everyone over just what is good for ourself, that the old and sick and frail should not suffer due to the heedlessness of the young and strong and selfish among us.
We should follow the rules established for everyone, even when we think we know better because most often we do not know any better.