Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Way Things Are

Terry here with a description of my lockdown life, and whether it has had any unexpected sweet spots in it… And what I am most looking forward to doing again afterwards.

I’ve always known I was a loner. Not to say I don’t love people, and love to be around them, but my go-to position has always been to be alone. I frequently go on long walks, and hardly ever go with anyone else. I hiked with a group for a few years, and that was fun, but I don’t mind a bit hiking/walking alone. I don’t mind going to a restaurant alone. I’m not sure I would like being totally alone in lockdown, but I have a husband and we have a student living with us.

Here's a photo I took on a recent walk:

I get up at the same time as I used to, around six o’clock, and follow the same pattern—tea, check emails, read the newspaper on-line, rant on Facebook, work out, then get down to whatever business I’ve organized. In that past that meant writing, but I have been too distracted to do much writing.

The biggest change in my routine is that I only go to the grocery store every two weeks or so. And when I do go, it takes two to three hours between buying the groceries and wiping them down with disinfectant. Of course now, we’re being told surfaces probably don’t hold the virus anyway, but I take the news with a skeptical eye. Better safe than sorry, and all that.

I don’t write nearly as much as usual because I feel restless and unmotivated. Fortunately, once I make myself sit down and work, I do get engaged. And I sigh for the poor, lonesome manuscript that I turned in to my agent at the end of February—just before everything fell apart.

Here's one thing I'm doing that I don't need much focus for: 

Cooking is not a problem. I’ve always liked to cook. So far, we haven’t gotten any take-out, although I’m thinking one day I might just have to get a little Thai food.. I heard that people should be getting take-out food to help restaurants, and I do want to help restaurants, so I donate to East Bay Feed ER, which supports 78 local restaurants and has served 22,000 meals to 18 care sites. It was founded in our area by author Ayelet Waldman and has been a great success.

Some things that seem to bother a lot of people don’t give me much trouble. Like hair! When my hair started sticking out at odd angles, I snipped off the odd angle parts—which worked okay. Now if I could just get my husband to let me snip off his growing mullet, I’d be set. On the other hand, there's the pedicure I need, but am not getting anytime soon. 

I do miss getting dressed up to go places, so I decided to dress up for Zoom meetings. And I miss hugging people. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to do that again safely unless everyone is wearing Hazmat suits, which sort of defeats the purpose. Or if that elusive vaccine gets developed. I’m not holding my breath.

Dressed up to be in a play a few year ago. Yep, that's me.

As for unexpected sweet spots, for some reason my husband and I laugh a lot more now and are much kinder to each other. I think it’s because there’s no outside pressure to be anywhere on time, or to do anything on time. There’s no packing for trips (boo-hoo) or having to race to get somewhere, or trying to decide what restaurant to go to or if we want to go out.

Which is ironic, because what I most look forward to is travel. 

At the same time, I’m gearing for never being able to travel again. As people of “a certain age,” my husband and I know we are in the danger zone. The thought of getting on an airplane gives me the shivers. But it doesn’t mean we can’t go anywhere. We live in a gorgeous area, with shorelines and beaches and hills. And there are national parks within driving distance. Once we figure out where to stay that’s safe, we can at least travel around here.

In fact, we are thinking of driving to Los Angeles to visit our son and his girlfriend. They have had to be extra-careful because his girlfriend has health issues that put her at particular risk. Which means we can trust that we can be with them safely. More irony.

But the bottom line is that I have a good life, with a beautiful house, a lovely backyard, great hiking trails nearby and the San Francisco Bay to drive to and walk along the shoreline when I need to get out. I live among people who mostly take the virus seriously. And with the ability to see people on-line when I talk to them, the pain of being apart is lessened.

I trust that before too long I’ll be back to writing several hours a day. The way things are now is starting to seem normal. There’s no way to know what happens next…but then, there never has been.

Sunset in the Bahamas, where we were last fall, and were supposed to be in April. Peace.


Paul D. Marks said...

I think there's a lot of restlessness these days, Terry. But it seems like things are slowly returning to some kind of normal. So I hope you can get back to writing full time soon.

Terry said...

I actually think I'm settling down...or settling in. Not sure which.