I’m not sure if we’re cracking or not. Things seem to still be going well, yet there are times I wonder how not interacting with ‘the others’ is affecting us. Should I be concerned that I basically spend the days intercepting hilarious jokes that zing thru my head? Should I be concerned that most times, when I ask a question, I’m met with looks or ‘is this an actual question or is there a terrible pun coming?’ Also, it’s not always a look. It’s rarely a look. It’s usually just an outright question from one or more of my roommates. And they are usually correct. I came down the stairs last week wearing camouflage on two body parts and immediately asked if it looked weird because ‘you can’t see my arms or feet.’ The follow up was ‘if I wear camouflage underwear, do I have CamoToe?’ Crickets. A stolen glance between my husband and son. Is this how it happens? Delirium?
My brain’s coping mechanism seems to be Captain Humor, leaving it in some sort of entertainment overdrive. I imagine the kids, in years to come, telling their kids why we have an onion egg hunt at Easter (so much easier than boiling anything) or that the first big Earth-day Celebration for them was in April 2020 and that they’ve just done it ever since. With no end in sight, the new tradition options seem endless. I was all set to implement fasting come Ramadan but was given a firm ‘no’ from my fun sucker roommates. Currently, the next event on the horizon is our fifth anniversary. I always pictured it happening during a pandemic (said no one ever).
When I’m not making bad jokes or searching Amazon for May Day decorations, I’m glued to Duolingo in the event that the ticket to release from isolation is a full vocabulario. Porque no? Porque mi esposo no gusta escuchar traduccións a las once y media a noche.
I continue compiling picture after picture to put in ‘the album’ when this is all over. We make one for every vacation we go on (thank you @shutterfly), so why not for this historic staycation? But how will a picture book ever relay the now dragging feeling of distancing ourselves or the weird urge I had today to run out and hug the delivery driver. Anytime anyone (and they are mostly strangers) shows up at our house, I want to run out with a cocktail and settle in to hear the entire story of their day. “How are the deliveries? More than usual? Big boxes? What streets have you been on? Oh, Revolutionary? Did you see my friend, Lisa? No? Did you stop at Studley Store for some chicken salad? How’s Steve?” I’m beginning to seem creepy even to, well, myself. How do you show that in a cute little album?
I do worry about the kids (always) and how this canceling of face-to-face conversations will change their future. We worried about it before this happened – Rich and I have been vigilant about teaching our kids to ‘look up,’ ‘look people in the eyes,’ ‘speak in full sentences,’ etc…rather than keep their faces glued to their screens. But now the world is telling them the opposite IS en vogue and the safest option. Look at the screen! The screen is where things are happening! Log In! Dial In! Connect! It’s all there! I know my son loves it – he’s said often that this is his dream. Finished school for the day, hunched down on the couch, fingers and eyes on his Minecraft world with a friend laying virtually on the next cushion – on Face Time – both phones pointed to the ceiling so there aren’t any actual faces (no, it doesn’t make sense to me either…although Brooks has a very nice ceiling fan).
And while I know this is his Chocolate Factory – I can also see the subtle changes in him. Eyes that look more wifty, a slouch when he walks, a lack of ambition. The kid who finished his first phase of learning, back when we thought this was a phase, is dragging slowly along in phase two. The kid who typically never lets anything at all bother him, but most certainly would NEVER show a ding by a parent bothered him – stormed out of the living room last night and slammed his door. We’ve decided quarantine door slams do not equal hinge removal as regular door slams do. Is he cracking?
And his sister – a self-proclaimed full-blown member of the Introvert Society, is finding out that maybe that’s not quite true. The missing of social interaction is showing in her, as well. A weekend of “I’m going to just get the rest of this schoolwork done!” turned into a weekend of naps and headaches and very little drive to “just get the rest of it done.” And I know, in both cases, they will get it done. Or if they don’t, that, really, it probably won’t matter – how do you punish a student for not being able to handle the sudden thrust of a quarter’s work of work into their gloved and over-washed hands. You really can’t. Can you? I’m actually kind of relieved she didn’t finish. The idea that she would be done with the school portion of this adventure had me slightly panicked about what-in-the-world she would do once that was off her plate. There’s also the low key panic of whether she will get to move out this summer and start the next chapter. She’s desperate to start something – and she needs to. Just today we settled on an apartment versus a dorm – something I would have never picked for a college freshman, but with the uncertainty of dorms even being a thing come fall, we felt like an apartment would give her the best chance to leave the nest. Yes, I can see where she would be cracking.
You know who’s doing great? You know is absolutely living her best life ever? My dog, Kylo. Not both dogs, mind you – Finley has been over it for weeks, lying down with a huff and offering input about the noise level anywhere in her “I’m trying to nap” vicinity, which is all over the house at all times. Kylo, however, has lost her cookies with glee. Somehow, she has gotten us on a schedule. The morning starts with her dancing around our bedroom with some stolen item from somewhere in her mouth – parading this gift she’s brought us with pride. Parading around her sister – who is likely on her back waiting for a wake up belly rub. Throughout the day, Kylo appears in front of various family members with a ball/frisbie/stuffed cow/sock/envelope/Nerf Dart in her mouth, urging her audience outside. For me, it’s at 3:30pm sharp. I don’t know why 3:30pm. It just is. And she not only brings a toy – she also brings our youngest cat, who, evidently, also took the ‘learn something new’ advice and has opted to learn how to chase fetch balls right along with the dogs who outweigh her forty-five pounds. That’s the spirit.
I am an extrovert. I live for the fuel that visits and conversations with others give me. I have my Kroger peeps, my Target peeps, the mailman, the Wawa lady, the Bon Chon kids – well, the list goes on. We generally run into at least three people I know when out erranding, sometimes sending the family into a frenzy of eye rolls and ‘hurry up’s!’ Rich is always slightly amazed (or baffled? Perhaps concerned) that I know so much about so many of the retail and food service workers in the Ville (What are you making? Oh, a wedding gift for the fish counter guy at Kroger? Oh, of course you are). I collect people like some collect (oh, I started that and then just realized I don’t actually know what people collect anymore), um something.
I miss that fuel! I long for it! The key will be finding a way (eventually) to refuel without re-over-scheduling my days, as they were so often before. The key is to keep finding ways to supplement that fuel with the people that are right here in this house. Our outdoor time, our television nights (The League), our lengthening dinners (nobody eats and aborts anymore, we all hang out for 20, 30, 40 minutes after discussing mostly random topics), our arts & crafts time – all contribute to that tank that emptied at the start of isolation. And I don’t want to forget that. Yet also long for other options.
We will celebrate our anniversary in Raleigh – curbside at the Angus Barn. A three hour trek for take out that I’m both super excited about and weirdly tentative. I’ve basically been to three places in the last six weeks: picking up groceries, picking up prescriptions and Lowe’s – and never more than ten miles from my house. So, yes, it does feel odd to know that we’ll be driving away from this cocoon, away from all of our preparations and routines. It feels odd and scary and ‘should we do this?’ It feels odd to know we’ll be flying down 95, packed car, off to do something very non-essential.
Yet, also very essential.
Because, maybe we’re all cracking just a bit.