I hate COVID-19, for-profit healthcare, and the president, but I do not always hate sheltering at home.
I’m gonna share some things I like about this experience, but not to cheer you up. I find cheerfulness obnoxious in these morbid, frightening times. Nevertheless, we all deserve whatever scraps of joy we can pull together during a pandemic. I suspect for some of you feeling good feels guilty. As a comrade who writes about herself, it is my obligation to share uncomfortable personal truths you may find relatable, so you’ll feel less alone. And who wouldn’t like to feel less alone these days. In the spirit of socially distanced solidarity, here are some quarantine things that don’t suck:
- I’m grateful to be sheltering with the only people I could stand seeing this often — my beloved spouse/best friend and our eight year-old daughter. Before quarantine we hardly saw each other at all; between school, differing work schedules, and organizing obligations, we averaged one or two evenings together per week. Now we have every day, evening, and weekend. Often it feels like too much; I long for my solitary external tasks, like shelving books in the school library or organizing the jams and jellies in the back stock at work. But I was missing my little family so much during those hectic pre-pandemic days. Like the sultry summer sun following a long winter, I’ll need to soak up their company lots before I’m ready for the next season.
- Every day I go for a walk and marvel at this early spring color show, full of purple, fuchsia, and gold. I’ve been exploring hills in a hidden part of the neighborhood you’d never drive through if you were trying to get somewhere fast. On one block you swear you’re on the edge of a forest. Then you round a corner and suddenly you’re sneaking beneath the eerily quiet expressway. Or sometimes I’ll head the other direction out my door, along a grid-like set of streets lined with sprawling, ancient trees filling in their lacy, yellow-green canopies. That takes me to the big park, with woodsy trails running alongside another creek. There’s plenty of room for dodging other pedestrians, though we always smile and say “hi” as we allow each other wide berths. I walked everywhere all throughout my twenties and often miss that car-free life. But this is different. These days I’m not walking to get anywhere, and I’m not the only one doing it.
- In my active pre-pandemic life I’d consume familiar media over and over again, seeking comfort in the repetition of an enjoyable TV show, streaming music channel, or podcast. Knowing “this will definitely amuse me, not leave me depressed or freaked out” was how I unwound from the daily stress of work, parenting, and regularly contemplating the horrors of the world. But here in quarantine, I need content that takes my mind to new places. So I watched Tiger King on Netflix, and laughed at the au courant memes about Joe Exotic and that bitch Carole Baskin. I’ve gotten into this old podcast about The Golden Girls, because even though I’m not a huge GG fan, these hosts nerd out in a way that makes me want to be their friend (as opposed to most podcasters, who are generally insufferable). And though it isn’t completely new-to-me material, I’ve also been rereading a bunch of early 1980s Sweet Valley High books my coworker loaned to me; 30+ years later, they are just as unintentionally funny and engaging as they were back then (more about that in a future post). Enjoying new content helps steer my mind away from all the death and suffering for an hour or two at a time.
- Since I’m not working on my feet so much, I don’t need to wear athletic shoes all the time. And that means I don’t have to worry about matching my outfit to practical footwear. The upshot is I’m wearing more dresses and looking way cuter in quarantine than I did before! Of course, nobody but my little family sees my fetching frocks. Except when I go for my walks and feel like a real lady about town.
- Cooking, tidying the house, and running laundry loads may not be as fulfilling as writing or political work, but it still beats retail. The wage work I’d been doing got in the way of homemaking. Now that my retail gig has been officially defined as non-essential, I clearly see that my old unpaid stay-at-home-mom job was more beneficial to my family. I don’t know what I’m gonna do when the unemployment insurance runs out. But in the meantime, It’s nice to know I don’t need wage work to feel whole. As long as I have good food, a safe place to live, comfortable clothing, and the internet, I’m living well. At least I have those things for now.