I spend a lot of time by myself. My studio is in my house which also has a beautiful garden. I have two large bird feeders that bring in the wildlife for entertainment outside my window and next to my screened porch. It is a beautiful place for a peaceful life I relish. I hike with myself (not by myself) and (used to) travel that way back in the days when there was carefree travel…
Don’t get me wrong (as my Dad would have said), I also like people in small doses. Kind thoughtful ones. Funny, energetic, buoyant ones too. Nothing beats an intelligent conversation with someone alive and engaged in living out loud. My ideal travel experience is hiking in a small group somewhere breathtaking enjoying episodic conversations over the course of a week or more. Along with a room of my own to recharge at night.
So here we are quarantined at home, either as volunteers, or somewhere between encouraged and mandated. Mostly we are staying 6 feet apart, sneezing into our sleeves, washing hands, doorknobs, surfaces and trying to do our part to outwit this invasive little “novel” fragment of DNA that wants to knock us off balance. It is shocking how much energy it takes to develop new ways of operating just to stave this nasty bit off. All of this curve flattening behavior to lessen the burden to those heroes in scrubs. And also to give the crazy smart scientists time to get a vaccine made and tested, before handing off the winning serum to another incredible group of folks who will make it and share it.
This is how we help. Stay home. Be patient. Act right.
Working at home alone is my jam. I paint alone, write alone, frame alone, garden alone, so alone is a regular thing for me. This quarantine bit has made very little impact on my daily living. Yes, the learning to stop touching my face, washing my hands like some modern version of Lady MacBeth (out, out, damn spot) is annoying and time consuming. But my calendar of obligations is EMPTY. Almost no deadlines. So plenty of time teach this ole girl new tricks. So, lots to work on, and Ta Dah! magically more than enough time to do all those things and more.
And yet, I can feel the isolation seeping in the last day or so. I don’t like this feeling.
Well hey! Let’s make a schedule and a list of all those things I’ve always wanted to get done, but never had time. GO:
Swap winter to spring/summer clothes, reorganize the garage, detail the car, install a light in the closet under the stairs, vacuum between the cracks in the sofa, wash every rug that is washable, re-organize all the drawers that were joyfully tidied up last year and have gone rouge. Visit local nursery staying 6 feet from everyone. Order too much mulch to be delivered. Purchase more shrubs than can possibly be planted by a small woman in the course of a normal springtime. Check, done and done.
It has only been 10 days.
This energizer bunny thing is a bummer sometimes. It’s how I came into the world. My dad told me that when he first saw me (I’m adopted) my eyes were just so lively. So the “high energy” gift is now gone to the Dark Side. I did take an entire day off staring at my phone and binge watching something I can’t even remember two days later. After doing nothing for an entire day, I felt like I was having an out of body experience that might never end if I didn’t start moving again.
Thankfully, the mulch is being delivered this week, so there is that to do. I still want to cull and organize the massive photo library of 35,000+ reference images, so there is always that too. Funny how I haven’t been drawn to that one. I have attempted to NOT cook and eat too much. However, making cookies today and hoping to not eat them all in 48 hours. I assure you I do meditate everyday, read inspirational words regularly and take a walk daily as well (except the previously mentioned slug day). Without those tethers to sanity I would be…well better not even think what that would look like.
So here I still am. Tapping away to beat the blahs.
This is my reality. We will each have to sort out our own, find our special little weak spots and see what creative solutions we can dream into being. I watched a virtual choir this morning singing “Down by the River” individually patched together seamlessly by some video conference miracle. I meet with friends on a Zoom platform (whatever that word means-jumping from what exactly?) to allow us to see each other’s faces and not feel so alone. It all helps. But here I am miss Home Alone practitioner and I am craving something really important. Something you can only get in-person closer than 6 feet apart. Touching. I miss being touched. Being held. I ache for it. The squeeze of a hand, the brush of a shoulder. The bump of an elbow is simply not doing enough right now to be a balm on that basic need.
I am a hugger. I did not grow up a hugger, I had to learn it. Oh what a wonderful thing! It’s how I greet and leave those wonderful people I described at the beginning of this rant. I have cultivated a practice of hugs, imitating the best I have received. I am proud to report my hugs have been complimented on occasion as soulfully warm without being inappropriate. I miss them. My body aches for them.
What to do about that?
Well, there is the puppy/dog thing. I never miss a chance to squat down to pet a puppy. Or to scratch a large silky headed, floppy eared dog. Not happening right now. Everyone with a dog just smiles and waves, but no approaches right now. It’s the right thing to do. I get that.
I have had dogs most of my life. I was lucking enough to even have my perfect soulmate dog Tucker for 6 1/2 years before he romped off to Dog Heaven by way of bone cancer and broke my heart. My sister said I should consider fostering a dog so I checked that out. A handful of pit bull mixes and a beagle. I looked each in their online photo eye. None of them spoke to me. I then spent too much time looking at puppy pics on adoption sites. I was tempted, but I would need to drive a ridiculous distance to play with a litter which violates all WHO/CDC guidelines and any measure of sanity.
I even thought about getting a bunny. I mean it is Easter soon. In the meantime, I am snuggling with a luxurious faux mink blanket. Maybe I am regressing.
So to all of you trapped with your family members, living in quarters that seem to get smaller by the day, speak ill of my whining. Go ahead. Let off some of that pent up steam. I completely understand how green doth your valley seem on the other side of the quarantine fence.
Maybe a better plan might be to go to that most effective defense to battle a simmering pity party, gratitude.
Gratitude is free and only takes a few minutes to list a fraction of things I am deeply grateful for today in this moment. I have a roof over my head (not recently torn off by tornadoes), food in my pantry (that I did not hysterically hoard), clean air to breathe (remember to breathe), enough paper goods for now, clean water to drink (and use when the paper goods run out), a relatively healthy body, wonderful neighbors, technology that connects me (unless I stare at it too much), friends who check on me, friends I check on. And that is just a start. And we need to start somewhere. This alternate universe that has crashed into our lives is going to be here awhile.
Take care everyone. Easy does it. Wash hands and pray for that vaccine.