Sunday, May 24, 2020

Life in the Age of Covid

Describe your lockdown life. Has it had any unexpected sweet spots in it? And what are you most looking forward to doing again afterwards?

Brenda Chapman blogging today.

When Ottawa first closed down for the pandemic, we were still experiencing cold and snowy weather. Staying inside the house was not onerous since who wanted to be out in that dreary mess anyhow? My husband Ted and I hunkered down. Our two daughters wouldn’t let us do any grocery shopping because the virus was worse for older people and Ted has a condition that could spell trouble. The girls' partners and friends took alternate weeks filling our fridge. It was a time of deep unease.

Luckily, Ted and I are both self-motivated people. For the first six weeks at home, I'd spend the days writing, baking, cleaning, reading while Ted built stuff in his basement workshop. We'd meet in my office for happy hour every day around four o'clock for wine and music. Ted had taken to choosing three albums every morning from his music collection, all starting with a letter of the alphabet. A variation of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malone series if you will. He'd post the day's selection on Facebook and friends made a game of guessing the next day's albums. Twenty-six days in and there was no sign of social distancing ending as we'd believed would happen. One day shortly after, the daily happy hour died a natural death.

Under the 'T'

The days flew by but they were also endless in a way hard to explain. I started to miss seeing people. There were the odd down days when the anxiety and terrible news got to me. Luckily, these days were few and far between and Ted and I always pulled each other up when we needed it the most.

Around week three, I learned how to operate Zoom and we began having meetings with friends and family. My book club has had two monthly meetings by video. The cold and snow continued to keep us indoors. By week six of social isolation, I'd had enough of relying on others for our food and set out to the store. I now make the trek once a week and this takes more organization than I'd like. The last few summers, I'd bike to the store every few days for food but now I take the car to load up with enough produce for an entire week. I've also discovered the joys of online shopping. Those first weeks, I had meat delivered from our local butcher. I also had (and still have) wine delivered from a winery in Niagara. I ordered books from an independent bookstore and had them dropped off at our front door.

Two weeks ago, the snow stopped for good, and last week not long after Mother's Day, temperatures climbed and garden centres opened. Since then, we've spent most of our days outside, getting the gardens ready, cleaning up the yard, having morning coffee on the deck. I've made several trips to buy plants, usually dissatisfied with the lack of choice but finding enough to keep me going. Our neighbors now visit but at a distance. We take turns in each other's yards, bringing our own drinks and lawn chairs. We discuss our gardens and what we're having for supper. My daughter drops by once or twice a week and we social distance in the back yard. I chat with my other daughter by phone and we've made plans to walk her dog. We don't feel so isolated even though we keep six feet apart from everybody.

Life has gotten very simple.

When this isolation phase is over, the things I'm going to most enjoy doing include hugging my daughters and their families and my friends. It'll be so good not to have to keep apart. I'll also like shopping without worrying about staying away from people or taking too long to make selections. I also look forward to eating supper in a restaurant, sharing a meal with friends, walking to our local pub to sit in the sun on the rooftop patio.

Our curling season was cut short and we're hoping to be back on the ice in the fall although this seems doubtful. Our daughters curl competitively and we often go to watch them in different cities and towns or on television throughout the winter. I usually follow baseball and golf so it'll be great when these are back. Travel is something else I'm looking forward to resuming. We had a month-long trip to France lined up that I've postponed a year and hope it's safe by then. If not, we'll wait until it is.This September, if we can travel within the province, we'll drive to Niagara to visit friends.

As for the book events, I virtually launched Closing Time in March but was unable to attend any signings or events so I'll be happy when I'm able to do some publicity and meet readers. While it'll be too late to hold a physical launch, the band I had lined up wants to have a party and I know it won't take much arm-twisting to get out a crowd. 

I suppose the biggest take away from this time of Covid-19 is how much we take for granted in our everyday lives -- our health, the ability to go where we like, the opportunities to get together with family and friends. The pandemic has also brought out a greater sense of community and a deeper respect and gratitude for front line workers, many of whom are putting their own lives in danger to care for the sick and dying. It's also helped to ease pollution as factories shut down and fewer of us are driving or taking transit. The number of people out walking and riding their bikes is unprecedented. Kids are spending more quality time with their parents and dogs are being walked more than ever before. Neighbors are checking in on neighbors and people are making a point of saying hello to strangers who might be spending this time alone.

We truly are all in this together even though we have to stay six feet apart ... for now. Yet I long for the day when a vaccine is readily available and hugging is back on the table.


Twitter: brendaAchapman

Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor


Paul D. Marks said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Brenda, talking about the things we take for granted. Hopefully we'll get those things back and maybe not quite take them as much for granted in the future.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanka Paul. There are some silver linings and lots to be thankful for.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

It sounds like you've managed these times perfectly, Brenda.

Brenda Chapman said...

We're doing okay, Dietrich! Hope you're doing well too. It might be easier for us authors who like our alone time :-)