Day 53

As I start this, it’s day 53, end of week eight for what is now my new normal: waking up, meditating, working out, showering, and walking downstairs to my office space to work from home. It’s also the end of week eight for our governor-mandated stay at home order. Word on the street is we’ll have some form of the order through Summer. Just last week, some businesses were allowed to reopen as part of Phase Two of the governor’s four-phase reopening plan. He–our governor–has clear definitions of what the phases are, what they entail, and the specific order in which they must happen to keep everyone as safe as possible. However, he–our governor–cannot spell out specifically what that means or will look like for each person and business taking part in these phased stages. I went to Starbucks and the automatic car wash this morning which killed all kinds of birds with one stone; a Mother’s Day weekend treat of my favorite Starbucks tea (London Fog Latte with almond milk), running my car and practicing my driving skills, solo car dance party, and a spotless car exterior. I also got to see Starbucks’ interpretation of the governor’s order–I’d ordered ahead and when I walked inside I could get less than five feet beyond the door because they had it sectioned off, and a barista with a mask came to ask how she could help me. When I told her I should have an order waiting, she retrieved it and handed it to me where before I would have walked all the way into the store and grabbed it from the order ahead area myself.

Working from home has been doable–thankfully, my company is still able to operate with almost everyone staying at home. I know I’m actually ‘working’ because I still look forward to the weekend. I’m enjoying my home office space. The biggest perk is the window overlooking our back patio and garden. It also has more personal things on my desk–more family pictures, one of my son’s pencil sketches, a bronze statue that was a past Mother’s Day present–and prettier things hanging on the walls that I like to gaze at. Hubs has helped me make some now-necessary upgrades, including hanging a few more pictures at my direct eye level (for my sanity) and getting me a new chair (for my health). I’d just gotten a new desk chair this past Christmas but now that I’m having to sit in it for long periods of time I’ve found out it’s not that comfortable! I make myself get up and go to either the dining room or outside for lunch to break up my work day. Last week, my company’s weekly newsletter included a list of some of the things that will happen/be arranged upon our return to the office, like one-way hallways, temperature checks before being allowed to enter, and cameras and mics at our workstations so all meetings can now be taken from our desks. I’m thanking my lucky stars I have an actual office with a door rather than just a cubicle–what if someone sneezes in cubicle land?!? Will they put plastic shields up on top of the cubicles? (Note to self: check that email again.) The current projected back-to-office date is June 1st. We’ll see what happens and I’ll keep you posted.

Hubs is now adding Kindergarten teacher to the many hats he wears. He’s been helping our son with his distance learning for the past eight weeks. He has two more to go. It has not been easy but he’s figured it out. I’ve told him he has the hardest job in our house right now and that he’s doing great. I’ve also reminded him not to sweat it, that our son will still get into whatever college he wants when the time comes, if he wants to even go to college, and that what matters most is the memories they both will have of spending this time together (more on this in a bit). Our son has weekly virtual meetings with his teacher and classmates; he hates them because he says he’s camera shy, but oddly enough whenever I have a virtual work meeting he has no problem popping in to say hello. Though to a point he may not be able to articulate, 20 faces on a screen would be a lot more intimidating than the two or three I have at a time for my work meetings. Our weather has been nice so he’s gotten many outdoor breaks, including helping Hubs tend the garden, kicking the soccer ball around, and some water hose fights I myself have even joined on our super hot days. I wonder about what the social isolation is doing to him; he’s had solo and group chats with other friends but there’s nothing like in-person interaction with your peers, and since he has no siblings he has no other options. Playing the other day, my son told me I was under arrest and started to put my hands in imaginary handcuffs. I asked him what I did to deserve such torture and he said I went out in public without a mask. How quickly the mind adapts, I thought to myself.

My son and Hubs have this new dynamic because of how much time they’re spending together. It’s kind of like a non-dangerous version of Stockholm Syndrome–Stockholm Syndrome Light if there ever was such a thing. They’re starting to look even more alike, speak with the same cadence, and today they’re even dressed the same–white tees and khaki bottoms. Whatever it is, it’s working as far as getting our son to do his schoolwork. And, I still hear a lot of laughs during the day so I know there are some good things happening. We still end most of my son’s days with all of us in his bed, reading books–some of which he now reads to us which is a fun treat.

My own relationship with Hubs has changed–not changed I guess, because we’re still on the same course together, but rather the course has swerved back to another state it hasn’t been in for quite some time, the ‘everything on my to-do list is done for the day and it’s only 9:35 in the morning so I can relax and not only listen to but engage in this conversation with you’ phase. And that phase swerve leads to another called the ‘now that I’m actually looking, I’d forgotten how handsome he is when he’s figuring out a problem’ phase. We had a 15-minute conversation the other day about hand position strategies to make the best shadow puppets on the ceiling at bedtime. We’ve discussed the finer points of our favorite characters and scenes from whatever shows or movies we’ve watched. We’ve taken on extra patience to keep the other safe in ways that matter most now–Hubs reminding me the order in which I need to suit and un-suit myself when leaving the house to run an errand, and my carefully measuring the distances between his nose, chin, and ears to make sure the tee-shirt masks I’m making for him will fit well and look nice. It’s been a nice reminder that I did marry my best friend and I still enjoy spending time with him.

I’m still working out at least five times a week. A good cardio workout is a great distraction to take my mind away from everything else. I’ve been unmuting by spending lots of time relaxing in the sun–seems like I can feel my body exhale deeply when the rays first hit my skin, and if I close my eyes and focus on the breeze I can almost imagine I’m at the beach. I’m also treating myself by deeming this time as a fiction, for-fun book-reading season (I try to alternate between fiction and nonfiction periods). I’ve already finished two good books. “I heard of someone who has it” turned into “I know someone who has it”–one of my coworkers is recovering. She contracted COVID-19 well after we started working from home so thankfully none of us has to waste any worrying time about the what ifs of that. I’ve stopped washing my hands 50 times a day because I need less than one hand to count the times I’ve left the house in the last eight weeks, and no one in our house has ever had any symptoms so I’ve deemed our house as ‘safe.’ Besides, my hands were getting unbelievably cracked and dry, even with applying lotion nightly. Just over a month ago I had Hubs all but shave my head–the grays were starting to come in and I wasn’t about to spend hours bleaching out my hair with nowhere to go. It’s already grown in and I could use another buzz! And, as easy as it has been to throw on leggings and a tee or tank everyday, I’m missing my ‘grown-up’ clothes. I caught a glimpse of some of my shoes the other day while opening my wardrobe to put away some laundry and felt wistful, wondering when I’d actually get to dress up again and wear some of my other pretty things. Then I looked at all my dresses that were also hanging right in front of me like colorful soldiers at the ready, started tearing up, and decided it was time to close the door. This is not forever, this is just for now….

I’ve finished the few show series I’d started watching long ago but didn’t have time to watch before–all the endings were great. I sometimes stay up past my bedtime to watch a show or movie with Hubs; we recently watched a wartime zombie/horror movie that was fantastic. If I’m watching a movie or show and see people freely hugging, sharing food and drink, or otherwise touching one another I get a little queasy inside. What are they doing, I think to myself, they’re going to get sick. It still amazes me how quickly my own mind is adapting to this new normal, including low-key celebrations; my family sang Happy Birthday virtually to one of my son’s friends. Hubs and I just ordered in from one of our favorite restaurants for our wedding anniversary. My own mother and I dressed up in our pearls and had a virtual breakfast ‘tea’ together for Mother’s Day. Also now par for the course is “well, next time” for events I look forward to that have been cancelled, like The Kentucky Derby (would have been two weeks ago) and Wimbledon (would have been next month).

I do not mean to ramble on, but I do mean to let you know that if the days are starting to be monotonous for you or you’re even starting to get the days mixed up and forget what day it is altogether, you are not alone. I’m worried that we may be reopening too soon and what the repercussions of that will look like, but I don’t like worrying (time waster, anxiety driver–no thank you please) so then I start counting my blessings, which are still too numerous to count and make me remember to be thankful to and for all that made it happen. I hope your blessings are still bountiful and that you’re also making the most out of this very strange time. And now, as always, I invite you to share–anything that’s on your mind about having to stay home will do, though you’ll get bonus points for sharing something really cool you’ve done/discovered/etc. I’ll go first: I made a snack for myself one day of plain yellow corn tortilla chips and some sharp white cheese that I then sprinkled with Sriracha. When I closed my eyes, they tasted just like Spicy Nacho flavored Doritos. Random, but good to know if you love Doritos as much as I do but don’t have any on hand, and don’t want to risk your health going out to get some. Until again, I wish you the very best of health and hope you find some happy unmuting time.

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