THE COVID-19 DIARIES: Reclusion

So, how are you doing? How are you holding up? Yes, this situation sucks.

Staying indoors and not frequenting local establishments are tough. This year of anxiety and the insistent social distancing can weigh on anyone. Even the most confident, the most positive of people can take this on — I can do anything! Kiss my ass COVID-19! Then, one day, out of the blue, they crumble like a Jenga tower. Paper cut-out strips of paper are decorated with googly eyes and a Crayola smiles. Voilà! — new friends.

Don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with that. Well, until paper Charlie and Samantha begin responding to your speaking aloud and rhetorical questions.

We need human interaction. We need to hug and high five. We need to visit with family and friends. We’re sacrificing for the better. We’re being selfless, doing this for each other. These continual mindful practices will be as automatic as buckling up when getting into a vehicle.

I’ve been enjoying time at home despite the employment itch — applying, interviewing, finding employment. Time is well spent with my fiance and counting down the days to our August wedding. The show must go on and will, especially in Ohio, and this kind of depends on everyone else doing their part.

I’ve been keeping busy with exercise, fighting the lax moments, and plugging away at the computer trying to accomplish a multitude of tasks. There is the option of curling up on the couch and watching television or a movie. The good ol’ sprawling out on a chair with legs hanging over an arm, cat on my lap, and reading away. Plus there is the side project of figuring out why my NES isn’t working. Katey and I have shared cooking duties, and I’ve been mastering the art of breakfast.

Fortunately, the Central New York weather is somewhat easing up in this time of COVID-19. This yields positive thoughts and encourages outdoor recreation, albeit social distancing. Fairer weather also makes things difficult. Sunshine and milder temperatures and a six-plus-foot proximities don’t go well together.

The restrictions from local and state lawmakers, voluntary and required, are not unreasonable. The bipartisanship is uplifting. The majority of state governors are doing more and informing more than the figurehead of this nation. New York leaders are relying on and relaying thorough statistical information, updating on a daily basis, and stressing New Yorkers use common sense to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Wearing masks, encouraged by Governor Cuomo, has not been unreasonable. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon’s ask for every-other-day travel, based on odd and even birth years, is feasible. Both have encouraged our flagged state to don’t be stupid about our actions, to social distance, and to not be “knuckleheads” per McMahon. And complaints can pour in — these folk can’t fix everything. They can’t promise normalcy either.

To also add: The Lysol and disinfectant body cleanses have been tingly, not abrasive. The feeling is like a mouthful of Pop Rocks but for the whole body. Weeeeeeee!

Changes are needed. Change is inevitable. It’s annoying to not interact with others in-person but it’s not forever. It’s a nuisance at times to wear a mask but it’s ideal. We are encouraged to make eye contact because of it. Eyes still prove they express more than words. For those bitching about long lines at Wegmans or cutting because they feel people are still “too far apart” — it’s at least six feet. Grocery store patrons are not afraid to speak up and it’s so entertaining.

My skin is arid, dry, and cracked from hand sanitizer and there is not enough moisturizer. My brain and temperament, at times, feel as dry.

There is a lot of discussion about getting back to normal. But we’re not going to get back to the previous normal. If we do, it won’t be until years in the future when things automatically ease back to what they were. It’s the American way to be and resort to be laxer. It was Katey who brought this to light — Perhaps our previous “normal” wasn’t as great as everyone thought it was.

I agree.

Quarantine, staying home, or whatever to call this period in our lives is a blessing. It’s a thought-provoking one, to say the least. It’s wonderful to be mindful about spending and not buying random and unnecessary shit. Yes, collecting unemployment is a step back but it’s not a step toward death. At this point, basic needs are required — shelter, food and water, hygiene, and (hate to say this) the internet. The internet has shown its positive side with encouraging and allowing people to stay connected.

We’ve taken advantage of my fiancé’s family camp in a more rural part of the state. It’s only an hour away from hometown Syracuse, yet the rural seclusion is a comfortable change of pace. Something to not be taken for granted. We have everything we need: poor cell service with the occasional hotspot, a television with an antenna, a bunch of movies, games, a shower, running water, books, and the great outdoors to enjoy.

Oh, and the memories. It’s a place that’s been a part of her family, a hunting and fishing lodge built by her grandfather and his cohorts, whose faces still hang In Memorium upon the wall, items that allow their spirits to come and go as they please. Being a place of her familial memories, there are notebooks chronicling and every visit and visitor. There are ties to my family as well, surprising and justifying how small this world is —my mother’s wedding dress seamstress wrote a passage. This is also the place where I proposed, where she said yes, and where we had our engagement photos taken.

This was Roosevelt’s first trip up to camp. The car ride wasn’t too pleasant for him. No car ride is but I think it’s because he hates cages. Upon his entering the camp, he still didn’t know what the hell was going on. He still doesn’t. It’s definitely new to him and there is a lot to take it. It’s stressful enough adjusting to a new house but a fishing and hunting lodge is like kidnapping a born-and-bred Manhattan businessman, throwing him in a trunk of a Lincoln, and bringing and releasing him to an upstate dairy farm to work for an unknown amount of time.

After almost a week, he’s adjusted. Roosevelt loves chasing the mice and making a racket in the middle of the night. During the first round of the NFL Draft, he caught his first rodent. With his tail raised higher than usual, he strutted out of one of the bedrooms with confident steps. The ecru squeaker hung limply from his mouth. Roosevelt was praised. When he dropped the mouse by our feet, the thing bolted for cover.

Roosevelt, an intelligent and kindhearted cat destined to get along with all walks of life, really didn’t know what to do with the mouse. Perhaps it was a toy to him? Going off of his love of fetching thrown toys, this mouse was encouraging his thrill of the chase, retrieval, and return.

But there is one comforting fact to make note of — pooping outside. It’s freeing. It’s relaxing. Who needs a photo or painting of nature to stare at while sitting on a porcelain seat in a confined room when there is this:

Fresh air. Full relaxation. [Photo by C. Malone — not while doing business]

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