Wednesday, July 15, 2020

All The Small Things

A couple of days ago, I lost track of what day it was.  No, there's nothing wrong with me (not as far as I know!), but my experience is a common one, it turns out. I heard a commentator on TV remark that during the pandemic, every day is "Blursday," since the ways many of us mark each new day-- our routines, like going to the office or visiting friends or attending a worship service or taking a trip-- have all been disrupted. When you've been spending long hours at home, even under the best of circumstances, the days begin to have a certain sameness to them, and Monday feels like Wednesday, which feels like Friday.

I've tried to make the best of it. When we were in the midst of strict stay-at-home orders in Massachusetts, I made sure I got dressed for business every day, and I tried to schedule Zoom calls with students or colleagues, just to stay busy and to keep my communication skills current. But it didn't always help. Seeing folks on a tiny screen (or even a bigger one) isn't the same as being with them in person. I found myself missing the ability to give someone a hug, or shake their hand. It's probably my imagination, but I don't feel as alert or as sharp as I did four months ago. And based on what I've been reading from other folks, I'm not the only one who feels this way.

In Massachusetts, we have a very cautious governor who instituted rules and steps; and nearly everyone followed them. Mask wearing was not a political issue-- most of us understood the reason for it, and even now, four months later, if you go into most stores, you'll see that 99% of people wear a mask.  (Some of us are trying to have fun with it: I often color-coordinate my masks with what I'm wearing, and I've also seen specially-made masks for sports fans, fans of certain rock bands, etc.  The other day, I was online and noticed about fifteen pages of craftspeople who custom-design masks... one of them is a cousin of mine, and she does an amazing job. I hope she's getting lots of customers!)

Because our COVID-19 numbers have continued to decline, restrictions are gradually being lifted. This past Sunday, for the first time in nearly four months, I was able to visit Jeff, the autistic young man I've known and advocated for since 1984. It was the longest we'd ever been apart, and I worried that he might forget about me. But in his mind, the four months never happened. The moment he saw me, it was like everything was fine again.  He was smiling, ready to get in my car and go out to find some lunch (not everything has opened back up yet). He was convinced that the routine he missed so much must be back in place again. He doesn't quite understand why we couldn't see each other, and he doesn't quite understand why he can't go back to work yet, but getting together with me was a sign that normal daily life must be returning, and it made him happy.

Of course, daily life is not normal yet. I don't know when it will be. But the past four months have given me a renewed appreciation for the little things in life-- like reading a good book, or enjoying a favorite music video, or watching the flowers blooming in our garden... or finally being able to visit a friend. There's a part of me that misses going in to work, but I haven't missed sitting in traffic! (However, I have missed visiting libraries and museums. Glad they are opening back up!) Most of all, I'll be glad when I can get back to a regular schedule again-- there's something to be said for knowing what day it is, and knowing there's somewhere I'm supposed to be.  

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