It’s starting to resemble the New Years Eve top ten list that used to be required from every publication on December 31. We’ve been in a global pandemic for a year, and the list of things that have changed is different for everyone. From what I’ve observed in Culver City, among the people I know, it’s all the way from ‘no major repercussions’ to ‘every aspect of life utterly changed.’
Activity is still severely limited, but worse, thinking seems to be curtailed as well.
For me, I have to confess that I began writing this essay last week, and then interrupted myself to read some half a dozen different articles about how the pandemic has caused a ‘cognitive impairment.’ We are all just slower, and a bit more challenged to find the right words.
The neurological effect of chronic stress accompanied by long term boredom is one that just can’t not be noticed. (See what happened there? What kinda sentence is that even?)
As someone who was already working from home, I got to joke with friends (over the phone and online) about how great it was. The commute is fabulous! Shoes are not required! Take a lunch break whenever you like! Time spent at work does not need to start at nine and end at five. There are so many benefits.
But my office got a lot more crowded, with two college students and a high schooler all needing different schedules and the “I need quiet I’m on a zoom call” notices from each of us rotating from eight in the morning until ten at night: later if its City Council or Conversational Japanese.
I have considered opening a new Twitter handle,”Help Me I’m in Quarantine with Three Teenagers” but there’s a limit to how amusing it is to point out the wet towels left in the bathroom post shower or making a great meal and destroying the kitchen. And no one needs to have their parents posting their flaws online.
I don’t think my lack of vocabulary is caused by conversations dominated by quotes from Family Guy and Borat. The edge of everything seems sanded to a curve.
My thousand square foot house has come to feel like another set of clothes I never get to remove. Even while reading, writing, sketching, cooking, there is a sense of slowness; roller skating across hot tar, swimming through sludge, dancing in shackles. Movement, but not quite what I had in mind.
A year ago, a friend made the comment “It’s like Mother Nature said “you go to your room and just think about what you’ve done.” So – we’ve been thinking. Or just trying to think. Or just understanding that thinking is hard right now.
As I plan my older daughter’s second pandemic birthday, budgetary concerns mean we can have dinner or cake; they all voted for cake. (At Christmas, we had to choose between dinner and presents. We all chose dinner; there were no regrets.)
Because a celebration will make us feel better. Hope is on the horizon.
So, happy anniversary. I hope your budget can include dinner and cake and presents. Watch some live music. Find a new game. Take a long, long walk. Look up your vaccine status again. Celebrate something, hopefully, with some people you love. Know that our next anniversary will be better.
Judith Martin Straw
Thank you so much for this. I hope everyone is reflecting and thinking ahead. I also saw lots of articles marking the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 quarantine, but haven’t read many of them. If only everyone could have truly just stayed inside, but of course that’s not possible with so many needs to be met. If only those who aren’t vital service providers would comply with basic safety measures. We might have been done a while ago and back to as close to normal as possible, but I can’t know that for certain. It’s frustrating to realize how many people still don’t accept the seriousness of this situation.
I was actually prepared for this by my mother, who tracked all of the epidemics over recent years and talked to me about them. She told me things would have to shut down, kids wouldn’t be able to attend school, churches and businesses would close for a time. I was ready, at least psychologically. My mother passed away about a month and a half before our country called for quarantine. Well, parts of our country did.
For my purposes, this time has been easy for me to quietly hunker down in my apartment. I needed a rest anyway, after helping my mother through a prolonged decline. But I feel sorry for young people, who have so much energy and need to connect with their friends. My heart breaks for those who have beloved family members in nursing homes and can’t visit them. Or even worse, have lost loved ones and couldn’t say good bye to them as they were taken to hospital, couldn’t hold memorial services and attend burials.
Now that the vaccine is becoming more available to all ages, I hold hope that we’ll be able to resume a semblance of normal life without being overly worried. But there is so much that needs to be worked on to improve our chance of preventing another pandemic. We’ve learned a lot. But not everyone believes in the information yet. Besides basic housekeeping, we all need to pitch in with overall world keeping. I don’t know what it will take. I am heartened that most of the young people I know accept this. Again, I hope everyone is reflecting and thinking ahead.
Thank you for providing a place to think and share our thoughts.