CAVEAT: This post is a slightly more emotive (though still oblique and very mild-mannered) conversation with the pandemic in which we are currently living. Feel free to skip down to the post-scripts or check out my slices of joy post if you need nothing but happy feelings at the moment. So, so many of you have written to encourage me to keep up with the positivity and I intend to do so!
My grandfather used to pour his morning bowl of cereal before he went to bed at night. This was after his wife — my beloved grandmother — had passed on, and though I perceived the habit as bizarre, I understood in some sense that it had to do with her death and to leave it alone.
A friend’s mother fell down the steps and injured her ankle a few years ago, and she has never descended her stairs without a hand on the rail and a focus on her footwork since. My friend shared this with a look of exasperation and added, “I keep wanting to say, ‘You don’t need to do that!‘ but I bite my tongue.”
And then there are the folks who have kept a well-stocked pantry since the “Y2K” conspiracy, when everyone loaded their homes with tinned green beans and purified water and spare batteries just in case the world really did go haywire at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1999. A bit much, we might think, to live in such a perennial state of vigilance.
And the people — myself, I will admit, included — who occasionally span the transept of the Church on Sunday morning to ponder points of egress in the case of an active shooter situation. An abundance of caution, etc.
And now, with this pandemic, I think: this is how it happens. This is how deep-seated habits are formed, the kind that just keep. The kind that will leave our children rolling their eyes: “Oh, mom. It’s fine. Don’t be so embarrassing.” As we frenetically scrub our hands, humming “Happy Birthday.” As we stock up on Purell when on sale and text our college-bound children: “2 for $5! I bought a whole case! Do you want some for your dorm, honey?” As we awkwardly circumvent hand-shakes, fumbling through salutes or fist pumps, much to the chagrin of our teens. As we find ourselves overly parsimonious with toilet paper.
My grandchildren will say: “She is so weird about not doing the kiss of peace in Church!”
And yours: “I don’t understand why she freezes so many loaves of bread in that damn freezer! She doesn’t need three loaves at any given moment?!”
Yes, this is how it happens: a very bad thing that leaves us forever changed, forever leery, forever determined to prevent is recurrence, no matter how much we realize our precautions have run a bit far afield.
Musing on this elicits an odd pairing of hope and melancholy, as I find myself already, presumptively — brashly, perhaps, given that I’ve no sense for the duration or personal import of this situation — contemplating what’s to come when the last embers of this wildfire are out, and at the same time wistful at its suddenly-transfigured image.
Just a month ago, I was going to be Jen, the granny with good shoes and an obsession with ironed sheets and her four sweet grandbabies (God willing). Now: Jen, the granny with a too-well-stocked-pantry who makes an ungainly peace sign at fellow parishioners at Church on Sunday morning, leery of germ-bearing palms. (But still with good shoes and those sweet grandbabies, mind you.) I am being intentionally flippant here, lest we veer to hard into the heaviness when I know so many of you are looking to me for escape and levity, but you get my drift:
This is how it happens…
+Everything is 30% off at LR!!! Still eyeing these, which I feel like would mate well with my entire closet.
+This console is so unique. Love.
+Adore this traditional, European-style romper for a baby boy. Would buy everything from this brand!
+I think I must own this skirt.
+Sweetest little set for a wee one (on sale!)
+Dying over this print!
+Love this little ditty.
+Ordered this for mini’s bathroom — love the color and the scalloped trim!