You could lose awareness of the date when things were normal. By normal, I mean when we could gather in bars, restaurants, and libraries, or have dinner with friends, not to mention hug them. I think that the candidates’ forum on March 9 marked the end of “normal.” We wiped the microphones down with sanitizer wipes, but it was otherwise a garden-variety gathering.
(I’m reminded of the Monty Python’s “Lifeboat Sketch.” The crew is in a lifeboat, presumably for many weeks. One tattered passenger asks, “Still no sign of land?” Another asks plaintively, “How long is it?” to which another comments, “That’s a rather personal question.”)
I’m looking at the wall calendar which chronicles our daily activities. Doctors’ appointments, volunteer activities, meetings, babysitting the grandkids, walks with friends, dinner dates, and other social aspects of our lives.
Our calendar went kablooey around March 9. I’m guessing that your activities and social life also took a hit at about this time. The adjustment probably has been more difficult for those with children of school age or younger, as well as those with jobs that suddenly weren’t considered vital to the economy or the health and welfare of the country.
Being retired (running the Recorder is a hobby), life hasn’t changed that dramatically for us. The Social Security checks still get direct deposited. The calendar’s events reflect more an inconvenience of missing a musical act we wanted to see, or disappointment at not being with grandchildren or seeing friends.
Confession: I really like grocery shopping. I plan out the week’s trip looking for bargains for us and for the LEAF Food Pantry. My goal each week is to maximize the savings with coupons and take advantage of the products shops take a loss on to get shoppers in the stores. I think of it as a challenge akin to hunting and gathering. For the last few weeks, I have been deprived of this ritual. When many of the grocery stores started reserving hours early in the morning for seniors and others with health challenges, I was going to do my shopping before the germ-laden hoards arrived.
However, my 40-year-old daughter from Austin sternly told me and her mother about not taking chances due to our age and vulnerability. After a 45-minute lecture, we had to promise multiple times that we would not, under any circumstance, go to a grocery store or any other place where we could pick up the virus. And we would not allow any other person to breach our personal six-foot perimeters. However, we could get a pick-up order of groceries placed in our trunk.
We could walk Apple Valley Road or Old South St. Vrain and, again keeping a distance of six feet, we could chat with friends and acquaintances to swap information on how we are doing. Speaking of social distance, I saw an article that said “physical distancing” may be a better phrase to use over “social distancing.” I tend to agree. We are social animals, and for the most part crave social interactions with others. If we follow the guidelines of maintaining our distance from others, we are physically rather than socially distancing. It sounds so much nicer that way, too.
It has been about three weeks, and most of us are at least inconvenienced, but there are folks in town who are dealing with the symptoms of COVID-19, and the anxiety of believing they may have the virus. Then there are people who are depressed, alone, or have issues with lost income to pay rent, bills, or their mortgage. The extreme uncertainty is something that we have never had to deal with.
There are a few among us who remember the Depression and World War II. These were economic uncertainties for the most part, though the physical toll of the war was all too real, with names of the dead in the newspapers. We went through the SARS and MERS epidemics, but this is so much more. People who still say this is just like another flu-like problem are, I think, in denial, and certainly at odds with medical experts.
Are you reading or watching a lot about this crisis? Too much? It dominates the news. Didn’t newspapers and the evening news used to have much more about the climate crisis, wars in remote lands, Trump rallies, and Democratic debates? That was oh so long ago, it seems. Weren’t we looking forward to March Madness and baseball’s opening day?
I’m optimistic about a return to an upgraded and more cautious “new normal.” After the 9/11 attacks, we eventually adjusted to the new normal of enhanced screening at airports, taking shoes and belts off, and three-ounce bottles of liquid. But that new normal may not arrive until we have a vaccine for COVID-19.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity to engage others with good spirits, congeniality, and offers to help or share resources. To pick but one example, LEAF has a Care Calls program for those who could benefit from a daily friendly and caring phone call. Contact Ellen Keane at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Right now, the community needs to continue to come together–but from a safe physical distance, of course.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this Opinion Column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any staff member, contribution writer or the Lyons Recorder.