Today marks the 20th day the four of us have been in isolation at home. It feels like an eternity.
One way I’ve watched the progression of how seriously people are taking the coronavirus is through the lens of what is happening at my local grocery store. Because, you know, that’s the excitement these days, going to the grocery store.
On February 29, I first bought a few extra supplies — an extra bag of rice, a few boxes of mac and cheese, a small package of toilet paper. Nothing was amiss at the store. The coronavirus was in the news but Americans in general weren’t looking at it as a serious threat — not enough to make a run on groceries. The next week, March 7, was the same story. I bought a bigger bag of rice, a bigger package of toilet paper, a box of kitty litter, a carton of shelf-stable milk. The shelves were fully stocked; nobody seemed concerned.
When I shopped on March 13, after the NBA canceled the rest of the season, March Madness was called off, Disney was talking about closing, and we began self-isolation because someone we had contact with was awaiting a COVID-19 test result, I had a feeling I’d see a difference at Kroger. The paper products aisle was completely empty. The beans and rice were cleaned out. There was no rubbing alcohol, no shelf-stable milk.
But it was this last trip, on March 28, where I saw the starkest difference. When I entered the store, an employee wearing gloves and a mask stood ready with a fleet of shopping carts. “Large or small cart?” he asked, then disinfected the handle of my large cart. Throughout the store, customers and staff wore masks and gloves. Many more shelves were empty (good thing I got peanut butter the previous week!). It was eerily quiet.
Now, we are in full-on lockdown. Until Monday, my husband and I ran limited errands: Kroger for groceries, the local co-op for bulk foods, the hardware store, the local nursery, curbside takeout once a week.On Monday March 30, Day 18 of our family isolation, our governor issued a state-wide Stay At Home Order effective until June 10.
My first thought was oh my god, that’s more than 8 weeks away, how will we survive, these past 3 weeks have already been eternal. Then I looked back through my journal to find the dates for those grocery trips and realized IT HASN’T EVEN BEEN 3 WEEKS. 😭. June 10 is 70 days away. We’ve now been at home 20.
The good news is that tension is low at our house. I bought ice cream and peanuts and chocolate syrup and melting chocolate and toaster strudels. Our daughter made caramel sauce. I made Ostara seed bread. We all have doors, and we use them. Miraculously, we’re all getting along, making jokes at one another’s expense, as we do. Dinner time is my favorite time of day, when we all open our doors and come out to see each other.
The kids aren’t stressed, even though they are aware of what’s going on. My husband and I are though. Our stress relief is fits of giggles at the dinner table. Dinner time is when the four of us argue amicably about really dumb stuff, like whether the tail of a cursive o comes off the top of the bottom (the top, duh) and make alliances based on who gets each others’ jokes. The other night my husband said something that sent me into tears of laughter. I recovered myself, wiped my tears, then remembered what he said and started laughing again. Then he started laughing and snorted the sip of bubbly water he had just taken. I have never seen him laugh so hard he nearly lost his beverage through his nose.
I suspect we’re a little delirious. But laughter is how we will survive.
One thing I’m enjoying with the pandemic is the creativity and dark humor that are coming out of it. Here are a few of my favorites:
This is my entry for the Discover Daily Prompt, Day 1: Joke. I look forward to a month of prompts to keep me distracted and writing 😀