Three things to keep after quarantine

Scenic river scene photo by Steven Russell
Scenic river scene photo by Steven Russell

Out Health

Quarantine sucks. It can’t be helping the economy. It can’t be good for people’s health. It can’t be good for sanity. We have to stay in the house. If we do go out, we can’t touch anything or anyone. You can’t breathe around anyone. You can’t see anyone’s face. But I will admit that there are a few things that I’ve been forced to do during this crisis that I’d like to keep. A few of them are trivial, and a few are really important things. I’ve grouped everything into three categories: Keeping Clean, Keeping Fit, and Keeping Close.

Some of these cleaning things aren’t bad to keep

Keeping Clean: We all might have overreacted back in March. Cleaning products, hand sanitizer, Clorox Wipes, and toilet paper disappeared from the shelves of all stores and online shops. I cleaned the inside of my car after every shopping trip. In the house I wiped down door knobs, wall switches, and railings almost daily. I put dishes immediately into the dishwasher, and wiped down all the counters more than once a day.

I’ve lightened up on some of these things, but I am now in the habit of washing off cans of food before I open them. I wash my hands throughout the day. I know I’ve never washed my hands this much ever before. Every night after I brush my teeth, I clean the brushes and my night guard with Listerine. I used to do that only when I had a cold. Now I do it every day. Some of these cleaning things aren’t bad to keep.

Keeping Fit: From March until mid-June I didn’t work at all. Well, I worked at home on projects, but they didn’t put me in a higher tax bracket. I figured that since I was sitting at home, I could at least do a few things myself that we used to pay other people to do. And it wouldn’t hurt me to do a little physical activity, since the gyms and pools were all closed.

I cleaned out the garage. I emptied the storage room in the basement and totally re-organized everything. I trimmed all the shrubs and crawled on my hands and knees under the holly trees pruning off branches. I continued wearing out my knees by weeding, and wore out the wheelbarrow spreading a mountain of mulch. I power washed the deck and the house, being careful to climb the extension ladder before my husband was awake. Oh, and I watched a YouTube video and learned how to replace the rope on an extension ladder. I repainted the shutters and the front door after 22 years of fading.

Instead of lifting weights at the gym, I pumped up the tires in the bike and got out on the roads. I rode to the beach. I rode to the parks. I rode on streets in town that I’ve never been down. I took pictures of the beautiful area we live in, where water meets land in many places, and where ravines have been cut deep into the landscape, and I posted them on Instagram. I’m going to keep doing these, even after the gyms open. Ok, I might hire someone to climb the ladder, and maybe to spread the mulch. But only because my husband insists. I think he found out about the ladder.

this pandemic has been heartbreaking in many ways

Keeping Close: It was later in March that my husband and I greatly increased our texting of friends, started keeping busy with Facebook Messenger groups, and introduced ourselves to Zoom meetings (which were often cocktail parties) and games online with the friends we used to hang out with in person. We used to only eat in the dining room when friends came over.

On Easter Sunday I got up early, went shopping, and cooked a really nice dinner for my husband. I put our best table cloth on the dining room table, set out the crystal goblets and the fine china we got as wedding presents, and served the two of us an elegant dinner. I have done that every Sunday since, although not with the good china. And, yes, we sit at opposite ends of the long table. We’ve spent more time online with our friends than we ever would have in person before this. I really like it. And we have kept more in touch with friends who live far away. There’s no reason we can’t keep up this frequency with those near and far after we can safely meet in person again.

Although this pandemic has been heartbreaking in many ways, it has allowed me to put more of myself into my household, more activity into my body, and more heart into friendships. I want to keep that going.