It is March 18, 2020.
The kids went to their dad’s house this morning for two overnights, so I am home alone. I spent the day catching up on work that I hadn’t been able to do with the kids home from school.
I also ran over to the library to get some more books before the library closes for what could be two weeks, or could be six weeks.
It felt weird to be out, to be honest. The last time I’d been out in my car was the day I’d run to the grocery store a few days before, and everyone had been out on the road, doing who knows what to get ready for the social distancing effort.
There were definitely fewer people out…but not so many that it was a ghost town.
Then I decided to brave the grocery store, as I really felt like it would be a good idea to eat something green (I’ve been eating pizza for about three days to try and eat up the takeout we bought to support local businesses).
While I was in there, I saw lots of empty shelves, still, and many people with very very full carts. The hoarding and gearing up continued.
I noticed that some of the items in the store previously bought out had been refreshed, while others were still bare. No triscuits. No bananas. No cleaning supplies or toilet paper.
Lots of lettuce though, thankfully. Apparently people don’t think about using leaves to wipe their…..ehems…..if they run out of toilet paper.
I got my salad and my dressing, and then took a wander down the wine aisle. I thought out sitting down in my peaceful quiet house with a glass of wine, relaxing with a book and some music.
I looked carefully at bottle after bottle, comparing prices.
I actually looked for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. I couldn’t decide. I couldn’t find the right bottle.
In the end, I didn’t buy any wine.
I realized that what I was searching for in the wine aisle was connection with my girl friends, which I used to celebrate with a glass of wine.
Drinking the wine didn’t excite me at all.
So I left the store without buying the wine (though I did pay for the greens and dressing). Then I made a call and located a friend who was free to take a walk.
We met on the street and didn’t touch, though I wanted to run down the street and throw myself into her arms. When I saw her and her stroller coming down the street toward me, I actually threw up my arms and screamed to greet her, pretending to run into the street like a lunatic.
And then the venting started.
We took turns explaining in really animated terms as we walked everything crazy that we had read and heard and worried about.
We talked about the number of cases rising across the United States, of how bad New York looks, how bad the city centers across the country will become.
We talked about prepping and what we had and didn’t have if things got worse. We talked about what we would do, or where we’d go.
We also talked about how we weren’t really concerned about having to “bug out” any time soom.
We chatted about homeschooling, and shared our tips and tricks for how we were making it work. She and I also talked about what wasn’t working, and brainstormed solutions to those problems.
The time few by, and I barely noticed the miles.
The sun was shining on us, the birds were singing, we were laughing.
It was surreal that in the middle of such a perfect afternoon, our country (our world) is in the middle of a deadly crisis the likes of which we’ve not seen in our lifetime.
We walked close to three miles, and then loath to go home, stopped to let her son get out of his stroller to play.
I stayed away from him, of course, and continued to leave my friend her space.
When it was over, I was sunburned, and lighter of heart. I hadn’t realized how badly I needed to unload the weight of the anxiety/stress I was feeling inside of me. It seems that texting with friends or family, or sharing memes or YouTube videos wasn’t cutting it.
That should be a good reminder to all of you friends out there, who are at home now. Everyone needs human interaction, even the most introverted of introverts. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It could be a quick walk in the sun. Or a long one.
The goal of the quarantine is to help us slow or stop the transmission of the virus until such time as the new cases are no longer overwhelming our medical care system, or a cure/vaccine can be developed for it. Or, I suppose, our society develops widespread immunity to it.
There’s nothing about taking a walk with a friend in the outdoors, keeping our distance from each other and not touching or sharing, that would break that quarantine or put us in danger.
If anything, it felt like a treatment, like a counseling session, like I’d filled a prescription with something that was going to help make me better.
If you feel like you need human interaction, don’t be afraid to make it happen, with the virus in mind. Try to do it outside, in a place where you don’t have to touch anything or each other. Only go if you are not showing any symptoms of anything, and wash up when you return.
Yes, there is always some risk, but given what we’ve heard from the government, we should do alright outside walking and talking.
If this becomes a long term fight (four to six months or more), more and more of us will be trying to find ways like this to safely connect and recharge.
Don’t wait until you are driven to drink to deal with the loss of your circle (like I almost was). Start working out ways to get some “me” friend time with those you could vent to right now.
Whether you know it or not, given what’s going on, you need it.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.