Everyone's looking forward to "getting back to normal" but me

I just got an email from a woman who runs one of the book clubs I belong to. She says she’s decided since “we all had our vaccine,” it’s time to start meeting in person again in each other’s homes.

I clutched. My heart stood still. She wants to go back to normal? Now? Just when I’ve firmly decided that I’d like the Covid life to go on forever.

Without the Covid, of course.

Then I got an invite to a memorial service in mid-April with parking instructions for “attendees” and no link to Zoom and no mention of masks.

And a few minutes later, my best friend all the way back to college texted that she’d gone to her sister’s for a dinner party the night before. Maskless! And free. The Underlying message in her text? (At least for me.) The end of Covid is afoot.

But….

I love having all my activities brought into my home by Zoom, not to mention by YouTube, Vimeo, any number of phones, TVs, and any variety of cables installed throughout my house…. Premium Channels, Satellites, radio waves and other things I don’t even understand. All I know is, whatever brings anything into my house so I don’t have to go out is here to stay. For me.

I love that the museums are opening up their behind the scenes collections to me online without having to get into a big jostling crowd on members’ night. I love my movie discussion club now coming in right on my kitchen table!

I love attending all my board meetings (I’m on a lot of boards) in the comfort of my own home–instead of the discomfort of someone’s office–or conference room somewhere in a building that takes a lot of time treating me like a terrorist before issuing me a visitor’s pass.

I never realized how much time and energy I spent getting from one thing to another–not all together wasted since it’s a great way to get 10,000 steps a day into one’s life–but the wear and tear takes a toll: the fear of being late; the possibility of tripping on an uneven sidewalk in “dressy” shoes and ending up in the emergency room; the frustration of not knowing where to go exactly when you get there. All that takes a lot of the fun out of it. Not to mention the horridness of snow, ice, cold, rain and heat. (Although I’ll admit losing a sought after link in a vast wasteland of emails is frustrating, too.)

Now when I go out to get my 10,000 steps, I walk around the neighborhood spying on the neighbors, or listening to an audio-book. Both of which are a lot more fun. And satisfying. Sometimes I walk with a maksed friend, and we chat.

Spying on neighbors is especially satisfying while wearing a face mask–since they can’t tell who’s peering through their windows trying to discern the exact color of their walls, the make and model of their fixtures and what kind of food they have on their table.

Speaking of which, I love eating at home! Who knew? And making the food I never would have guessed I could. I like knowing what’s in everything I eat. No more guessing at fast food emporiums. Either I put the ingredients in from scratch, or I can read the label on any of those ingredients I put in.

I love not having to get dressed and go to my health clubs and yoga studio. They come to me. And you know how the teachers always say in class, don’t do this or don’t do that if it doesn’t feel right, but you do it anyway to save face in front of the instructor and the other students?

Well, at home you can do what they say. Without fear of looking like an uncoordinated scaredy cat. You don’t have to save face by doing stuff you really shouldn’t be doing. You just don’t do it.

And there’s no chance of breaking, spraining, tearing, straining or pulling anything. No one’s next to me, judging. It’s true freedom.

I love having three things I can easily do in one night: at 6, 7 and 8 PM, for example, without as much as moving–except turning around to fill my water glass or perhaps pouring a few drops of vino. I love never having to leave my computer (or any other) screen and still participate fully in life.

Was I ever really happy, content and comfortable squeezed into a concert hall, sitting on my coat, antsy because I really should run out and use the ladies’ room, but waiting until intermission when the line is long? The music is divine, of course, but it’s pretty darn good watching up close and live on a screen, too–and listening with any of my deluxe earphones.

And if a time conflict develops and the hosts don’t record whatever is conflicting? I can have a combination of screens going all at once. Music and talk are a good combination. Even if they are coming in from two different devices.

I got two years’ of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education done in six months. And I’m no worse for the wear. (My law license lives!) And I never left my house for any of it.

It’s better not to have to get on a dirty subway car to meet an obligation, but rather just sit down and connect to the internet sans the rat race. Yes, sometimes there’s a connectivity problem (mine or someone else’s) but there are CTA breakdowns, stuck elevators and bad traffic jams out in the world, too.

And on the rare occassions when I do go out, I love my mask wardrobe stacked by the door. Once my face is covered, I’m basically anonymous, knowing it doesn’t matter how the rest of me looks–how I’m dressed or how my hair looks or that I am makeupless. And on Zoom, everyone’s watching themselves anyway. And if their video isn’t on, who knows what they’re doing? But I know they’re not watching me.

I have never been involved in doing and going and enjoying as much as I have been this past year at home. Because I’ve done almost everything with ease. With so little wear and tear.

Home is where my heart is, aside from a few museum visits, very socially distanced, of course. And a few necessary doctor and dentist checkups, temperatures taken of course. And even a few visits to restaurants when they weren’t closed down. Ditto on the temperature taken. As well the feeling that a visit to a restaurant is somewhat like a visit to a hospital these days: what with thermometers, masks and the possibility that any person–albeit six feet away–is a walking petri dish full of killer microbes.

And I do go to Target and Jewel when necessary, a hop and a skip from home. And I visit our family office to tend to things a bit. And when called, I have worked as an arbitrator. Temperature taken there, too. Masked. Litigants on the phone. Even there, amid the dispute, it’s low key and relaxing. Kind of like home.

If I learned one thing about myself, it’s this: I have a very low body temperature.

I’ve done as many fundraisers online as I ever did in person. If not more. (Some complete with food and wine delivered by a caterer.) Concerts, too. And ballets, movies, even plays (one was even done one on one; one actress in a one-act who saw me and I saw her).

I love exploring the websites of every cultural institution in the world. And I love cable news running all day as my basic connection to life.

I’ve visited a ton of artists studios from within my computer. Some even live! While they worked. And I’ve gone to workshops where artists instruct. They tell us in advance what materials to have on hand.

I never avoid phone calls now. Or texting. Because I never have to be anywhere or go anywhere. I have extra time. And my friendships have deepened. I’ve never talked to my mother this much in my life.

Living in the time of covid also and always provides an excuse for getting out of anything. The always “too many people, too many germs, I’m not taking a chance of dying” excuse.

And yes. My eyes get tired looking at screens. And sometimes I get a little dizzy. Like right now, as I write this. Discipline is needed to break away and go out for a walk and look at the horizon for awhile. Not that discipline of this sort was ever my strong suit. But it is a good time to develop a commitment to doing just that. The alternative–leaving the comfort of my own home and going back to “normal”–is just not for me anymore.

When Covid started and we sheltered in place, I made a list of things I’d have to resume and tend to when real life began again. Haircuts being top on the list. Going here, going there, following up with this person or place to do this or that.

I never look at it now.

At first I thought this pandemic provided a nice break. And now? I think it’s given me a new life.

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