This week we eased back into life outside the plantation. A quick scroll through your social media will confirm that there are as many opinions about how to self-isolate and practice social distancing as there are social media accounts. You and your family may not feel it’s a good idea to be preparing to end your own “quarantine” and that’s ok. You should certainly do what you feel is best. As I respect your right to govern yourself and your family as you see fit, please respect my right to do the same.
The thing is most of us haven’t really been in quarantine. As I understand the word technically, a quarantine would not include interacting with take-out restaurants, trips to Walmart, visiting family, leaving the house to exercise, or leaving the house at all really. So, let’s just own that for a second, can we? At best we’ve all been social distancing. At worst we’ve all been hanging out more at home. Maybe you have been militant about your self-isolation and if so, my hat is off to you. But whether you’ve had no contact with the world outside your home, little contact, lots of contact, or even if you’ve pretty much ignored all suggestions on social distancing, we’ve still all experienced a very different world for the last few months. Public places have been closed. Restaurants have allowed no indoor dining. Many jobs have been limited to work-from-home tasks. Schools have been closed and kids have been home. So even if you’ve had some of your life remain normal, you’ve still had to make some major adjustments.
Last week my kids finished their school year officially by cleaning out their lockers and picking up all their assignments and projects. We’ve moved into the “summer time” schedule around the house, and the only major difference here now is that G is still home from work every day. We’re still limited with some of the activities we would normally pursue, but mostly things are starting to feel like they did back in early March.
We’ve started having family lunches at mom’s again. More places are opening for business including some restaurant dining rooms. We’ve tried to support our local restaurants as much as possible over the last several weeks, but we haven’t eaten inside a restaurant since early March. We got up one day this week and decided we were going to go shopping and eat in a restaurant. We drove to Greenville and picked up the things on our list. We also went to Marshall’s and stood in a short line to get inside. The occupancy rules forced us to wait a bit before going in. The checkout line in Marshall’s is always long, but with an extra few feet expected between humans, it looped around through the store farther than I’ve ever seen it. World Market was only open for curbside pickup. Ross looked like its clothing was practicing social distancing with a couple of feet between each item of clothing on the men’s side. Apparently there have been some distribution disruptions.
When we were ready to eat, we decided on BBQ. We drove to one of our favorite BBQ places only to find it was still closed. Our plan B was a BBQ place we’d never tried before. When we arrived, their indoor dining area was closed. Instead, we sat at an outdoor table in the sun. It was a beautiful day. We ate beside the big BBQ slow cooker. It smelled amazing. The food was also good, so no complaints from me. Still, we failed to eat inside a restaurant. Maybe next time.
Many businesses and jobs are preparing to reopen the first week of June. I’ve noticed some museums and galleries will resume normal hours on June 1. I’ve heard many voices speaking out against moving back to normal operations too soon. There’s the warning of a looming rebound of COVID 19 after we all start being normal again. I suppose this is likely. Still, I think I may be confused about what people are thinking about this virus. Maybe our educational videos with the matches lighting one another and the one match moving out of line to stop the spread of the fire has fooled some of us into thinking that social distancing and washing our hands will eradicate this virus from Earth. Now that this virus is moving among humans, we’re stuck with it. The flu comes around annually and the strains change. We wash our hands, avoid the infected and we go about our business. The flu doesn’t go away, it even has its own season!
So, if you haven’t been exposed, you will be sooner or later. I understand that our (hopefully) once in a lifetime global shut-down was designed to give our medical friends time to develop strategies to fight the new virus, and to give humans time to build up antibodies. Maybe we’ve enjoyed the break, and maybe we’ll all be better beings because of it, but the fact remains that we can’t stay shut down forever. Whatever you think normal will be in the coming months and years, we simply have to start walking in that direction sooner or later.
I read a couple things recently comparing our self-isolation to a cocoon. I think that’s a beautiful metaphor for what we’ve been doing. I’m not saying I buy it, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless. The thing about a cocoon is that it is a temporary space and time. The Monarch butterfly is a gloriously beautiful butterfly, but we must remember it did not start out that way. It entered the cocoon as a wingless, flightless creature. It spent its time inside the cocoon changing. Wouldn’t it be cool if this time of self-isolation created permanent changes in us that helped us bring more beauty to the world when we emerged?