Leaving the bunker

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?

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include reading, painting, cooking and travel.

17 thoughts on “Leaving the bunker

  1. Hi Joanna – For some reason, I cannot get to the post. I will try again. — xoxo Alex



  2. The link doesn’t work. I enjoy your blog.

    On Tue, May 4, 2021 at 10:26 AM CHANGES IN OUR LIVES wrote:

    > Changes in our Lives posted: ” 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 other” >


  3. Ah, yes. “What’s on your mind?” That invasive question that greets me every morning.

    Your piece reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Abi Morgan’s masterful script of The Iron Lady. Baroness Thatcher is talking with her doctor:

    People don’t ‘think’ any more.

    They ‘feel’. ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Oh I don’t feel
    comfortable with that’ ‘Oh, I’m so sorry but we, the group were

    D’you know, one of the great problems of our age is that
    we are governed by people who care more about feelings than thoughts
    and ideas.

    Now thoughts and ideas. That interests me.

    Ask me what I am thinking


    1. Oh yes, I loved that scene from The Crown… Margaret Thatcher was less open than was good for her samity, but she did what she felt she needed to do. No shirking of responsibilities for her. And this is how I feel about the vaccine controversy. We have to pull together on this. I hope those people who are against the vaccine will have second thoughts… And Stever, ” What’s on your mind?”


  4. If people would stop and think before they go out without a mask and join a crowd, then they probably wouldn’t do it. Did those people in Alberta really think it was safe to go to a rodeo? Or did they feel that they needed to get out for some entertainment? Thinking requires effort but feeling just happens. If we are to get to a post-Covid lifestyle, it is going to cost each of us personal effort. Sure, throwing money into the pot helps (if people are really doing that), but personal effort to help everybody else, and feel (yes feel) responsible for everyone else’s well-being is essential. Let’s all work together. [Reply site won’t let me go back and read what I have written, so hope this makes sense]


    1. Yes Auntie Alice. I too am frustrated with the antivax attitude. Vaccination may not be the best thing or maybe it is… who knows for sure? But right NOW it is the best way out of the crisis we’re in. So everyone needs to pull together. Later when the virus is under control, we can see if better ways exist.


  5. Hi Joanna – I’m glad I could get into your website after a couple of tries. – To tell you the truth, I’m a little afraid of leaving the cocoon. After all this time of being able to use the fear of catching the virus as an excuse not to leave the house, I will be considered “strange” when I get my second vaccine and am able to leave without all that fear in my head and then not do so. Since John and I work at home in our studios anyway, we did not feel the impact of not being able to leave as much as other people who are more used to socializing. John has taken all the walks, paid all the bills, done all the shopping for the past year while I was in charge of keeping the house semi neat without my weekly housecleaner helping or my gardener. I think I will have to brace for impact once the green light is given after my second vaccine. I can tell you though, that I will still be cautious and wear my mask for many more months. I’m not sure everyone else will be as cautious as they could be. I will take baby steps out of the house. Oh well. That’s just me. — Thanks as always for an interesting, thought provoking blog. xoxo


    1. Alex, I can understand how you feel. Even Type A – Me is nervous about putting myself back into circulation. But I have added incentive to do so… namely. I am going nuts without the stimulation and pleasure I get from others’ company. And don’t sell yourself short… you are a lovely friend and I enjoy your quiet ways. We aren’t all the same and we each need to embrace “re-entry” in our own way. That said,, call me when you feel ready… we can go to Bistro Cultural and sit outside. Baby steps are the best steps… Virtual hugs to you (for now…)


  6. I love your openness and easy approachable writing style! You let us into your mind, your feelings , your mind workings.
    I feel so much less accessible; more like Jabba the Hutt, I am a not bad mind inside a slug of a body, and this plague has fitted me fine. The challenge will be to come out into the light.


    1. Lori, thank you. I am glad you enjoy my writing. But you underestimate yourself. You are a most interesting person with great stories and you make life better for your friends and anyone you see needs you. Like Stevie Nicks croons… “Swee-ee-eet wonderful you… You make me happy with the things you do.”


  7. The anti-vax crowd in the U.K. claims to speak for 99% of the population. Which is odd, because eligible age groups have seen high 90% uptake for the vaccine. A cynic might suggest that they are a very noisy lot, but are ultimately not of sufficient number to derail the vaccination drive.


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