Until just now, internet interruptions have kept me from posting my whole piece. Here is the text.
For all intents and purposes, during the past year, most of us have been living in bunkers. From my sporadic posts, most readers of CHANGES IN OUR LIVES are aware that this has not been an easy time for me. Like many women, I thrive on being around others. To be shut in and too anxious to even go for a walk around the neighborhood is not an experience I want to repeat.
Nonetheless, in some odd ways, I can see that the pandemic has been good for me. First off, it has forced me to re-evaluate what is most important in my life. And at the top of the list stands my husband. We’ve been together for 45 years, and over that time, we have both developed our own interests. I have my writing, painting and a group of close friends. Jorge likes getting together at the cafe with his long-time buddies and they spend hours remembering the exploits of their youth. He also enjoys his historical research and chronicling. For years, we’ve been so preoccupied with our kids, other people, our college, as well as many more pursuits, and I realise that we did not give each other as much attention as we should have.
When the pandemic began, we had no idea that we would be one another’s mainstay for more than a year. But once the media started talking about second and third waves, we understood that the seclusion would go on and on. Jorge and I looked at each other, and I think we both silently thought the same thing – It’s you and me Babe.
Most days we saw no one else. At first this seemed like a novelty. We sat for long periods of time on the living room sofa and reviewed “the days of our lives”. It was amazing how we remember 45 years of ups and downs from such different perspectives. Jorge could recall every detail of what happened on significant occasions – how we happened to be doing whatever, who was with us, and what we ate. I had crystal clear memories of how we all felt, what we wore, if it was hot, or not-too-bad, who was irritated, and who was happy.
We cooked up a storm, we made plans for the future. But by the third month of lockdown, our weight had gone up and our spirits had bogged down. Long silences filled our days. We started sleeping more. Sometimes two siestas. And of course, we watched lots of Netflix.
About 5 months into our forced exile from society, we became obsessed with classifying our 1,000s and 1,000s of photos. We took about a week removing them from 30 albums. Our working styles are totally different, and soon we both got frustrated, because just as our memories are from different perspectives, we also approach tasks from unlike viewpoints.
I wanted to sort by people. All the pictures of our immediate family got put into one pile. Another pile had those with only Jorge and me. Just Jorge, just me, just Carlos, just Maggie. You can imagine. Before long I had dozens of wobbly stacks of photographs spread out on two large tables. At first Jorge tried to change my system, but he soon left me alone. And guess what? Months later, I am still plugging away. In fits and starts, of course.
Fits and starts is my motto and not just with the photos. I apply it to my painting, my writing, cleaning and sewing. What can I say?
Re-organising the kitchen, all the closets, purging the 20 year-old, three sizes too small clothes from our wardrobes, and replanting much of the garden are other make-work projects that had various degrees of success and failure.
After a summer of non-stop torrential rain, we had the roof re-surfaced, the house got painted inside and out, the dining room chairs finally received new covers.
By Christmas, we were fit to be tied. We felt sick about not seeing our daughter who had moved to Los Angeles just before the pandemic began. Our son and girlfriend could not visit often because they worried about infecting us. At Christmas time, we could not host the IWC tea. There would be no big turkey dinner with family and friends.
The New Year rolled around and many of our friends who spend the winter in Yucatan had to stay put in cold Canada or the Trump-crazed USA. We did not have a tour to some lovely place that we could look forward to. But news of the vaccine looked promising. Maybe by the spring we would get “jabbed”?
And now it is May, Jorge and I have received our first vaccination, and we feel much better. We are still using our masks, avoiding crowds, washing hands, using sanitizer and keeping our distance from others, but we don’t sense so much fear. We both look forward to the second dose later this month
But not everyone we know, along with millions of anonymous others are jumping into line for their shots. The Anti-vax vice squad is all too active recruiting – What a thorny issue – I know my opinion doesn’t sit well with the “respect my rights” crowd. But mine should be respected too. We need to find a way to pull together on this. What do you think?