May 11, 2020
Two months ago today, I made my last trip down to Spokane to hang out with friends. It was another day or so before I really realized it had been the last time I’d see any of them for quite a while. I haven’t done that great a job staying in touch online â€¦ trying to do that seems to highlight the distance rather than lessen it for me. Perhaps as these times go on, I’ll find my way.
In mid-April, after my previous personal pandemic update, my little mountain town hosted two protests against the stay at home order in three days, both filled with people showing no regard for the health of the community. Worse, many of the folks there traveled from other counties, most of which have more cases than we do. We didn’t see a spike in cases after that, but I’m cynical enough to believe that many of the people waving their signs about “freedom” would avoid being tested even if they did get sick. I know that nationally people who think this way are a minority, but up here, I fear they’re not. One of my state reps, elected more than once now, called the governor “Little Hitler” (his last name is Little) for issuing the stay at home order. I’m horrified by some of the things this contingent says and does.
Idaho started Phase 1 of its re-opening on May 1st. (Next door, Washington extended their stay at home order until May 31st.) Mr. K and I went to Home Depot that day for supplies for a kitchen project, the first time we’d shopped for anything but food or other necessities since the shutdown started (Home Depot had been open all along; we just hadn’t gone there). They were limiting the number of customers in the store, sanitizing carts, and asking people to maintain their distance from each other. They weren’t requiring masks, but we wore ours because we are a pro-mask household. Many folks in the store were not, and also didn’t seem to know how far six feet away was. I found it stressful to have to be always watching for some unmasked family tooling around the store seemingly without any sense of other people, but we got what we came for and it’s been nine days now and we didn’t get sick so no harm no foul I guess. Then we treated ourselves with the first meal we’ve eaten somewhere other than our home since mid-March: a stop at the food truck run by a local creamery. Distancing wasn’t a problem there due to it being later in the afternoon and the fact you have to be making an effort to find the location outside of town. We enjoyed our cheese-centric meal in the fresh air, including the best fried curds I’ve had in quite some time.
Despite things starting to re-open, Mr. and I have been sticking to our established stay at home routine (other than that Home Depot and cheese curds excursion). We don’t need to go out more, and as more people are going out, many without masks or a care for physical distancing, I think it’s just going to get more risky for a while. I’m not sure when I’ll feel comfortable starting a personal Phase 1 for re-opening. Maybe when I see my preferred brands/forms of toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissues back on the store shelves that’ll be a sign things are moving toward some normalcy.
Mostly I’ve adapted to this new lifestyle, but a couple days ago I had one of those times when I just felt really sad and fragile and weepy, not directly connected to the pandemic but that surely wasn’t a help. I was tempted to go back to bed and just escape into books and/or more sleep, but feared I’d feel worse if I got nothing “productive” done all day, so pushed through it by making a “things I did” list, writing down even small actions like putting away the excess pens scattered around the card table I use as my desk or taking a chip clip downstairs (why was there a chip clip on my desk? I do not know). I rewarded myself every few actions with a round or two or three of a casual game on my phone and slowly started to feel better. Seeing so much clear horizontal space on the table was calming, and finding a particular piece of paper I’d been searching for and feared lost was a turning point. Whether I’ll remember to try this approach the next time this sort of emotional rainstorm happens or whether it will work if I do remains to be seen. Even with what I’m considering a success, I never got back to one of the things I couldn’t face doing early in the day, just didn’t have the heart for it.
In the Before Time, Mr. and I would have spent today starting to settle back in at home after flying in from Honolulu the night before at the end of our epic Australia/New Zealand/French Polynesia/Hawaii trip. Instead, we are doing what we’ve been doing for the last two months and working our to do lists around the house with no trips to look forward to. I know we’re fortunate to be in a place in life where we can weather this pandemic much more easily than many. As noted above, I still feel sad and frustrated and anxious sometimes, though. To be fair, I felt those things sometimes pre-pandemic, so in one way nothing much has changed. Except it feels like a lot has changed, and I’ve no idea what the new normal will eventually turn out to be.