Alone Again, Naturally (?)
As we move into April and our second (third?) week of “Sheltering-in-Place” I realized that thirty (or so) years of living alone (approx. 1982 to 2012) may have conditioned me for this situation better than most. Despite being a gregarious person --- I have always been compulsively “social” --- renting one’s own apartment and living by yourself (sometimes with a dog/s) --- not sharing space with another human --- is actually good preparation for this new ordeal we’re experiencing.
I know this is not the case for most people. Certainly, most of my friends have lived with spouses and children for years and years. In my own case, I had days full of contact with others (numerous stress studies found Teaching to be one of the most stressful professions one could choose because of the number of interactions with other people --- students/teachers/administrators/custodians/et al --- each day. More contacts = more stress) so I never lived an isolated existence but for many years I went home to a solitary lair. As a result, even after 8-plus years of living with the Lovely Carol Marie, it has not been a radical challenge adjusting to this quarantined state. Not that I don’t miss my family, friends, and tennis pals, . . . but reading, writing, sketching/painting, playing the guitar and piano, taking a daily (minimum one-mile) walk with the LCM, and getting in about a half-hour or more with the “tennis trainer” device I got from a Facebook ad (it’s a plastic base you fill with water and an elastic band with a tennis ball attached --- whack it and smack it!) and the day’s pretty full. There’s streaming and cable tv to take up “off hours,” too. And we are definitely limiting the amount of news we watch --- particularly not watching the Daily Coronavirus Task Force Briefing (Trump Rally and Lie-Fest).
I can understand, though, how folks who are used to living with hustle and bustle, working spouses, children, and so on will find this a particularly challenging time. I’m going to surrender the rest of today’s blog to share a post the Lovely CM sent me, from our Norwalk “Next Door” email thread. It’s self-explanatory, so I’ll simply paste it here and make a few comments at the end. (Bold print highlights in the text are mine)
Perspective by a friend, a writer, a Norwalk resident and now an employee at Stop & Shop on Main. St.
People, stay home.
"Since taking the buyout from Hearst in 2018, I have started working at a Stop & Shop bakeshop. The first few weeks were tough, and I wasn't sure I would stay. Now, I love my job and co-workers. For someone who was never a morning person, I'm now up at 4 a.m. five days a week to start a 5 a.m. work shift.
Now, I am in no way comparing my job to the doctors, nurses, EMTs, and first responders during the COVID-19 crisis. However, I get a little peeved when I see all these posts from people complaining about having to stay at home.
I couldn't believe it when one customer said she was going nuts staying at home, so we would be seeing her more often. The grocery store is not the new coffee shop, it is not a place for you to socialize. Make a list, get what you need for at least a week, and then get out of here. Go home. Do not come back a day later because you're bored.
Also, when you see, for example, three cans of soup left on a shelf, don't take all three --people panic buying are the reason shelves are often empty. I'm guessing a lot of what was purchased will end up tossed in the garbage or covered in freezer burn because you won't get to it before the expiration date.
When the sign says that there should be only one shopper in the store per family, it does, indeed, apply to you. You aren't special. (Yes, I know there are exceptions, but the people to whom these exceptions apply aren't the ones breaking the rules)
And if you can't follow the big directional arrows on the floor, there to move traffic through the store one way in an effort to keep you safe, then I'm sorry, but you may be too stupid to the leave the house.
Oh, and because you all can't follow directions and just had to congregate in groups, I can't even take a drive through the beach on my day off.
Wait a minute -- one more thing, if you don't see something on the shelves and ask me if I have and I say, sorry, we're all out, believe me. Don't ask me to go and check. I fill the Peapod bakery order every morning, I'm well aware of what we have and don't have
End of rant."
Humans are naturally social animals, to be sure, but I find the comment about the grocery store becoming “the new coffee shop” particularly important to note. Boredom does not mean one should head out to the store because you need some kind of human contact. There are a wide variety of conferencing apps as well as the old stand-bys of Skype and Facetime. These have to become our means of social interaction until we get through this pandemic. That may not be what people want to hear, but it’s just the way it is and the way it has to be.
That doesn’t make it any easier but, even if our President claims to be a “Wartime President” while not acting like one, we have to act as if we are under siege --- because we are! The London Bombing during World War !! caused the citizens to seek shelter deep in the subway tubes underground. Wartime conditions require extreme actions we would not otherwise take. That’s the situation we are in.
Recommendations: Keep a daily journal. Call your friends regularly --- and give a call to those you haven’t talked to in a long time. Develop new skills or improve upon some you already have. Watch instructional videos! Invent new games. Use your imagination, be creative --- and then share that with others, too.
Above all, be safe. Wash your hands. Stay home. Be well.