Years from now, people will share pandemic shutdown stories. Much in the same way we remember September 11th, this time in our lives will stir a flurry of memories and emotions. And it will be unique for each and every one of us.
In the early weeks of the pandemic, my family shopped for supplies and hunkered down to work and eat, work and eat, work and eat. We tossed in a little Netflix at night and had takeout during the weekends to support local restaurants.
We had toilet paper.
We had hand sanitizer.
We had social media.
We made sourdough starter and had homemade bread.
We had Zoom-type parties, once even playing a game with households in Connecticut, Texas, and New York.
We worried but knew we could do this. All to help the progression of the virus flatten and help the hospitals so they could safe lives.
And we’ve cried so many tears. Some of them sad tears, but the majority of them found in moments of human compassion that go straight to heart and twist it into a sappy mess. Turns out there are a lot of good, caring people out there.
As time passes, the enthusiasm to tackle this with a positive bend has worn a little thin (but I’m trying). We’re seeing the worst and know better times are off in the far distance. And I’m noticing some “heavier” side effects from living through this scary time.
Each night since the start of our shutdown, my dreams have been weird. As we head into May, they’re getting even more bizarre.
Some dreams I remember. Some I don’t.
But I wake each morning relieved to be set free. It’s as if I’ve been locked inside a Salvador Dalí painting for eight hours. Where surreal images disrupt my night’s sleep that are as sharp and precise as the famous painters, and definitely as bizarre. About four weeks into the shutdown, I stumbled upon a New York Times article discussing the very subject of weird dreams during the coronavirus pandemic. I shared it on Facebook and was relieved to find many of my friends were experiencing the same thing. I guess stress will do that to a person. I long for the days when my dreams take on a more conventional strangeness.
My drives are a whole other matter. They’ll be remembered more for their sadness.
These days, I’m excited to get into my car for even the most boring errand. Today’s was to pick up a prescription at the vets. Even if I’m armed with masks and hand sanitizer, I anticipate a little taste of my old life. Where I can play my XM radio and sing loudly. Speak to someone (through my mask, of course) who hasn’t been locked in the house with me for days. Get a chance to see something besides the limited square footage of my house.
But each time I go out, the same lonely feeling sweeps over me. Streets are void of cars and people. At least compared to normal. I suppose this is how Carol and Daryl feel when they go on a supply run on the Walking Dead. When I do pass another car, I wait for the lonely feeling to lift. I want to wave. You know, the little hand flip you see motorcycle riders do when they pass each other that says “Hey, we’re alike because we ride on two wheels.” But instead I’d be waving to the other driver to say, “Hey, I’m out of my house, just like you.” But I don’t wave. Instead, I drive and anxiously wait for another car to appear. So I don’t feel like I’m living in an apocalyptic novel.
This feeling is one I won’t ever forget. When things return to normal (and they will) I won’t complain if there’s a traffic jam downtown. I won’t want to rush past a bunch of cyclists who are making it hard to drive on the narrow country roads in town. I’ll go slow and be thankful to see life on the streets again. And, if I go to the strip mall downtown and can’t find a parking spot, I’ll take a moment to be thankful people are spending money at the local businesses.
Because I know life will be normal again. My old first world problems will return. The ghost of Salvatore Dali will have to wait another hundred years for the next pandemic to again haunt anyone’s dreams. And, hopefully, my night’s sleep will have returned to normal.
And until then, I will use care in all my interactions, try to make the best of this, and pray for those in hospitals because of this deadly and quirky virus, that has the scientists and doctors working overtime.
So, if you’re out running errands and see me driving the other way, please wave!! It just might make my day.
What’s been memorable for you during this pandemic?