Before The Pandemic
Life is so different now. This is what I can still remember.
I look at the charts and it’s terrifying. The charts show a slow-motion train wreck in progress. The charts show that at least 4 million people have been injured by the coronavirus. The charts are more than just the number of dead. The charts are a reflection of the number of people who may have to endure chronic disease due to internal organ damage as a result of infection with the virus.
I’m eating well. I’m getting exercise. I’m taking a gram of vitamin C every day now. I’ve been doing that since late last year, before the pandemic. I can’t really eat citrus due to GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). So I down a small glass of Emergen-C every morning, first thing. I’ve tried it at night, but it kind of knocks me out and then I can’t function other than to sleep. So morning it is when I’m already wired.
Yesterday, I went to the office to get all of my personal stuff from work. I had a little file cabinet next to my desk with a few personal items there, and I got all that. I brought home my PC as a spare in case my laptop should take a hit. In fact, I’m going to reverse that so that my PC is primary and my laptop is the spare. My PC can support 5 monitors, but I should get by with 3. I’ve been making do with 2 for months now. That’s my project for next weekend, putting all that together again.
I don’t drive to work much anymore. That trip yesterday was the last trip that I expect to make to that office. I suspect that if I ever return to work in an office with this company, that I will be working in another office. In a recent poll, 50% of the people at my company expressed a desire to work from home, permanently. I was one of them. I’m so done with the commute.
So I work from home. I have a gigabit internet connection that saved my job and makes it all happen. I have a bedroom that I converted to an office for work. I have a wired connection for my computers in there. And I have the space to do my work there. I don’t have to worry about cooling because it’s in my basement. I have very little direct sunlight there, too. Somehow, without even realizing it, I had created the perfect home office. It all just sort of came together over the last year or two.
I’ve been relatively sheltered from the worst of the pandemic workwise. But so much else is in the air. I don’t know where it will fall. School will start for me and my kids next month. I’m taking an online English class at the local college because that’s more entertaining than TV, and I like to write. The kids will go to school with masks on. I’ve read an article by an epidemiologist who says that for some reason, the infection rate has been very low for kids in every country tallied so far. So I think they’ll be OK.
I’m thinking of writing a will now. I keep thinking about an article that I read long ago that said that 80% of the people will be infected by this virus. I’m 55, so I will be OK, but just in case the virus has its way with me, I want to be sure that the state knows where everything goes when I go.
I spend a lot of time indoors now. I don’t run errands much unless it’s something that my wife can’t do. She does most of the driving. I just fix and improve stuff around the house. We’re a team. She does the shopping, I return the stuff she wants me to return. I keep the cars maintained. I make runs to the hardware store when stuff breaks.
I have neighbors who practice social distancing. Their kids play with my kids. We’re comfortable with each other. We maintain a small circle to keep the risk low. It’s a relief to see my kids playing with other kids when their parents have enough brains to follow the science.
I look around me and so many businesses have signage for social distancing. So many shops have closed. So many have adapted to the pandemic. So many have made wearing a mask a requirement for doing business. When I see people complaining about wearing a mask, I look at the science and I look at them, and I remind myself that their complaints are political. The science says that wearing a mask slows the spread, regardless of what is in their heads.
I live in a Red State where Republicans have a supermajority in both houses of the state legislature. Even these guys get it. Every business that I have visited in the last two months has set up plastic barriers at the cashier stands. Every business requires that we wear a mask. Everyone one of them observes protocol to slow the spread.
I miss pizza parlors. I miss the bounce houses for the kids. I miss the recreation centers. I miss going to the theater to watch a movie. I miss just going out to shop…I’m not really a shopper, but it’s nice to get out of the house together, as a family. I miss the museums. There is so much that I miss and for now, it’s gone.
So I’m doing yard work. I’m walking every day. I’m doing whatever I can to just tolerate the isolation until the pandemic passes. Normal is gone. As we adapt to current conditions, a new normal will emerge. Our lifestyles will change. We will have assumed new habits, new ways of doing things, and we will think differently about how we used to be.
I just want to get past this pandemic. I just want to see my kids get married. I’d like to go on a few more vacations with my family. I’d like to see my kids get through school. I’d like to see my friends and family in California again. I’d like to visit Vietnam again and enjoy their incredible fruit again.
The pandemic reminds me of just how tenuous life is. The pandemic reminds me that I must enjoy what I have now. The pandemic reminds me to acknowledge the gifts in my life now. When I see pictures of my family and how we used to be, before the pandemic, I get a little wistful. I get a little grateful. I let whatever I have now, I let that be enough.