There are a handful of places my husband and I go nowadays. Grocery store, the drugstore, convenience store (for gas—we venture in on only rare occasions), friends’ backyards, and the occasional winery (outside of course).
Originally—at the beginning, we only ventured as far as our mailbox. Because we didn’t know or understand what the hell was going on, our brains shifted into survivalist mode. In turn, our primitive instincts alerted us to the horrid possibility of viral and veiled threatening air vapors that could very well descend from the sky at any time to claim scared out of our wits bodies.
Those first few weeks were the worst. That first morning? You know the one. The initial time each of us thought “this is really serious.” It’s different timelines for everyone (with the exception of those that believe a crazed lab scientist wanting to wreak havoc on all of mankind created the virus). My own life-as-we-know-it-ending timeline began the morning I told my husband maybe we shouldn’t go out for breakfast. We haven’t been out for breakfast since. We haven’t been out for lunch, dinner, or appetizers either. Instead, much later in the game, we began getting takeout.
Within a few weeks, our youngest daughter traveled back from her newly adopted city bringing her 11-year-old puppy dog. Although furloughed from her job, she didn’t want to leave, but family wanted her home. She lived with our oldest daughter and husband and our other grand-pup for over three months. At the time we all thought things might get back to semi-normal in the coming weeks. We were wrong.
Eventually, we did what we humans do best, we acclimated. But acclimating during this point in our history translates into something like descending virtual flights of stairs. Some travel further down than others, but all the same, our descent is real. And after a while it’s hard to tell how far we’ve gone. Because we grow used to the place we’ve landed.
After a few months of groping in the suffocating darkness that has enveloped all of us, my husband and I discovered our perimeters. Like newly mobile toddlers, we ventured out. Instead of ordering everything from grocery delivery services, we donned our masks and stepped into the fully lit grocery store. Instead of depending upon mail order companies for shampoos, cleaning supplies, or hand sanitizer, we walked through the automatic doors of our local drugstore and purchased sundry items. We still scrub our hands each time we come home, but we understand how much we need to go—traveling even a short distance— to see people and find that there is a world out there beyond our mailbox.
The first time we visited our daughters we were still in the mailbox only mode. Sensing our anxiety, our kids sat in chairs in their front lawn. Each armed with their own puppy dog, they sat holding homemade signs; hearts carved in red markers—“We can get through this!” written in large block lettering. We remained in our car and shouted to them encouraging memes—“This will be over in no time! We’re okay! Stay safe!”
It wasn’t over in ‘no time.’ But, baby step by baby step we started ascending the flights of stairs slowly out of the dark. By the time our daughter went back to her as she phrases it ‘home,’ we were holding court in each other’s backyards, celebrating the 4th of July in style (eating catered bbq), and playing croquet as we practiced social distancing and creative dining.
We both enjoy time with friends as we sit outside at various wineries and breweries. However, we still won’t eat out, not even on a restaurant patio, but we order takeout and watch TV as our hometown baseball team plays to an empty stadium (with the exception of cardboard cutout people).
Our baby steps have hurled us into this new world with an unavoidable viciousness. The coping mechanisms vary per situation. For example, I have several themed face masks, each worn to match the mood of the day. The bright white flowered mask is becoming my favorite. I refer to it as “Steel Magnolia.”
More and more each day, my mood is beginning to transcend the original dark cavernous emotion I wore when all this started. With the days shortening and night descending earlier each evening, my anticipation increases – allowing that eventually—perhaps when the daylight wains the soonest, our world will be the brightest again.