How I’m Living Now

I have not left my house in 5 weeks, since COVID-19 became a pandemic.

I’ve gone for walks in my neighborhood, and I sit on my front porch with my husband, watching people walk to and from the beach, which they are not allowed to be on anymore. My husband loves to sit out there for hours, but I grow restless and wander inside, picking up a book, turning on the TV, or flipping through a magazine. I don’t do the errands – my husband does. We decided one of us would go out and one would stay home. I am not working at all, since no one wants to read anything except about the Coronavirus, and I haven’t wanted to write about the Coronavirus.

But now I do.

Everyone is reacting to our new, strange, sad world differently. I am very cautious and feel safer staying home until there is a downturn in the number of cases and deaths, while others are comfortable with more interaction with people, whether it’s 6 foot distance cocktail parties or going to multiple grocery stores in search of the perfect ingredients. No way is wrong or right, as long as everyone follows the rules of wearing a mask, keeping your distance and washing your hands. I know I will hear from some, “You see, we all overreacted,” when the stay-at-home guidelines are lifted and COVID-19 is in control, but I will not agree. There is no overreaction to an unprecedented situation with no predictable outcome. We all have to do what we have to do to keep ourselves safe and sane.

Last night, my husband took our dog for a walk and someone driving by slowed down and spit out the window in his direction. How can we feel safe when there are crazy people like that in the world?

The most troubling and most difficult thing for me, beyond watching the death tolls and numbers of infected grow is the gnawing feeling that time is passing me by and I am losing precious days and weeks and, ultimately, many months of, simply, living. I am somewhat of a homebody, so the being at home part isn’t too hard for me – I have always chosen to spend more time in the place I live than anywhere else. I am a cozy, blanket-wrapping, snuggly kind of person. I like naps and coffee and books (so many books) and magazines. But what I love most of all about being at home is having the people I love around me – and that is what I am missing, painfully and with great longing.

I have grown older since this pandemic began. The people in my life who keep me feeling young are no longer available to me for lunches, for Sunday afternoons at my house, for visits and shopping trips and just, you know, the regular stuff. Being away from them – my mother, my brother, my wonderful daughter, my very special and beloved friends – has left me feeling lonely, despite the texts, the phone calls, the Zoom get-togethers, and the emails. I see my son every day (he has been here from the start) and that brightens up everything, but after coming here to work he rushes home to his apartment a few blocks away to get online with his buddies and play whatever games they are playing. My husband and I grow closer and closer, entwined in each other for support, for laughs, for love. He feels older, too.

This is just not what we expected to be doing at this point in our lives, you know? Of course you know.

Much has been written since this pandemic began about how people are responding to it while it’s happening, but what I wonder about is how people will come out of it. Will we return to our friends and family with the same level of trust and affection and connection, or will everyone hold back in fear – not just of getting COVID-19, but of growing too attached and then, when another wave of the pandemic hits, having to remove ourselves from each other again? What will be important to us? Will we share meals, and sit close? Or are we going to all live at arm’s length?

There have been some good things to come out of this horrible situation. I have stopped feeling guilty for not being busy all the time, because it is literally impossible to do so anymore. I have enjoyed, mostly, being with my husband 24/7 and I am so glad he is here with me. I have fallen even more in love with my dog, though he has fallen more in love with my husband, who takes him on epic walks every day. I have cleaned out my kitchen cabinets (who hasn’t, though?) and rediscovered my childhood love of creating art through paint by numbers and coloring books. I have listened to a lot of music (thank you, Spotify!). I have watched some great TV and read a few good books. I have stared out my bedroom window at the three very tall palm trees at the end of my street and felt the breeze come through the window and, sometimes, that has been enough.

And as of today, I have not gotten sick, nor has anyone I love. That is all that really matters.

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24 Comments

  • Sorry that some jerk spat in your husband’s direction. I can’t believe how crazy some ppl are. I do agree with you that no matter how difficult the sense of isolation becomes, the most important thing for me too is knowing that all my loved ones are still healthy. I’ve also decided earlier today to create a to-do list for when things become more ‘normal’ again. I’ve realized that I ‘ve put off some things and now I can’t even do them because I don’t have the materials, or ingredients, etc. This is a great reminder for me that there is no better time than now. Stay safe, Sharon.

  • Scarlette Chapman

    Thank you for your thoughtful post, Sharon. I’m a fellow Southern Californian and can relate to what you’re experiencing right now. I’m an introvert and love being at home. So, what’s surprised me the most is how much I hunger for the company of others, to be able to give someone a hug or a pat on the back. I’m so sorry for what your husband experienced. I have witnessed both the best and worst in people through this pandemic. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad. My favorite line from your piece: “There is no overreaction to an unprecedented situation with no predictable outcome. We all have to do what we have to do to keep ourselves safe and sane.”

    • Sharon Greenthal

      Thank you for your comment, and I agree, there has been so much good that has come out of this. Stay safe and healthy!

  • LInda Schulman

    Nice post Sharon. I was there with ya’ the whole way through your Covid journey. I believe this experience is teaching me something. For me, to be still. I tend to feel I have to be running around accomplishing this and that; although I can accomplish at home – there is only so much you can do. So, at the moment I am listening to Mozart on violin and I have my paint by number empty canvass in front of me. This probably would not have happened, if not for the pandemic because there would have been something “ more important” for me to do. So thank you for making me feel not so alone! Health to you and your family.

  • I feel the same way about my husband, Sharon, and am so grateful he’s the man that he is. I do the cooking and he does, well…everything else! We’re pushing a month of this crazy pandemic and I can’t wait until it’s over and we find some kind of ‘normal’. Stay safe and comfortable!
    bh

  • I can relate to so much of what you have written about your feelings. One of the things I have done that I am loving is I signed up for a free 27 day writing program called 27 Wildest Days of Writing. The leader reads a poem or piece and then we are to just write for 15 minutes based on a line from the piece or a line that she give or a line that comes to us. It has become the highlight of my SIP time. If you are interested the information is at: https://27powers.org/27-wildest-days/

  • Suzy

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I would love reading your thoughts of anything NOT related to Coronavirus. I am appalled that anyone would spit at your husband or in his direction- that is assault in my opinion.
    I, too am a homebody and have not had a problem staying home. I think your point is well taken about the re-entry of us and our relationships. It is scary to think that we may feel the need to withhold our feelings to protect ourselves from another possible withdrawal. We are all vulnerable to that and I feel sad about that as well. And for me, as for you, and your other readers I feel blessed & lucky that my children and loved ones are healthy and safe. Thank you for your succinct words- you obviously do a much better job than I do!

  • I can totally relate to your words. It’s been challenging times and I too have felt sad that life is passing by and this is not how I thought I would be spending my time at this point. I had been ill for awhile and was starting to feel better and looking forward to traveling and celebrating life with my kids — now, like you, I can’t even see my daughter. Thankfully my son has been staying at my beach condo so I was able to sneak away and see him – although I didn’t hug him like I normally do because I was afraid of getting too close – he lives in NYC. Through my yoga and meditation practice I’ve been learning to be more in the present and cherish each day and be glad that I am healthy and that my friends and family are healthy and safe. We can’t predict tomorrow. And can never go back to the past either. Don’t know what the new normal will be. Stay well and stay safe.

  • Hi Sharon, I am so sorry to hear about your poor husband being spat at. That is awful. And I know what you mean about the sadness about being parted from your loved ones. I’m missing my mum, dad, and elder brother who live up in Scotland. And even though I speak to them on the phone or on Skype it’s not the same. This is the toughest experience I’ve ever had in my life. Thank goodness I have my husband, and two daughters with me. Take care. Marje

  • Hi Sharon! I really appreciate what a thoughtful, accessible writer you are! And I felt my stomach get the jitters when I read about a person spitting on your husband – yikes! I know people are scared and when we’re scared we can react in some primitive ways….but nobody should be spit upon. I’ve been using some of this time to create (super fun!) and also to heal some old hurts. I reached out to my brother who lives in NYC – he and I have been estranged most of our adult life and he was actually happy to hear from me! I don’t delude myself that we will now be “close” – but I’m grateful for another piece of healing in my life. Thanks for you work.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I’m so glad you connected with your brother. That’s one of the good things about what’s happened – we are all finding ways to reconnect. Thank you for reading!

    • I am so pleased for you that you reached out to your brother and he responded in kind. There are some lovely silver linings to all this.

  • You validate my feelings of being ok with being home to read, relax, do hobbies, and of course stay safe….but at the same time longing for the connection. I feel older, and my husband seems older. He had the virus, quarantined at home and has recovered. I don’t think I will ever go back to being carefree anymore. Turning 60 in February just feels like I’m over that hill. Thanks for such authentic words.

    • Sharon Greenthal

      I’m so glad your husband is ok! I think we all feel over the hill in one way or another these days. Take care of your family. xo

  • Becka Saunders

    Interesting that comments focus on the spitting. Someone told a story here of someone spitting on the gas pump handle. Disgusting. Hateful. LIkely an IQ45 voter. I miss my kids horrifically but I’m hopeful this won’t be forever. If this becomes a way of life, the distance is worse than I ever imagined. I’m a homebody too and have 100 acres in which to play/work. Baby goats due any moment. Even still I struggle. I miss 2 legged creatures! And as for my husband, on the surface he seems to be carefree, but I can tell he’s lost because he’s like a shadow sometimes. We love each other, but this is A LOT of time together with just us! My cousin says, “We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.” Thanks for your post!

    • Sharon Greenthal

      It’s much harder on my husband than on me. He is such a goal-oriented person. Enjoy the baby goats! xoxo

  • How happy I am to have come across your very thoughtful blog. I totally hear what you are saying, although I am sad that this has made you feel older. Actually, while it’s still ongoing perhaps that is a very reasonable way to feel, but I hope once it’s all over you will feel a renewed sense of life. We will appreciate more than ever before being able to meet up with friends and loved ones for real hugs and actual face-to-face time together. A handwritten note, a homegrown gift, a personalised book recommendation will be all the more treasured. We have learned to slow down and we have witnessed incredible heights of human kindness which overshadow stupid, thoughtless acts like spitting. I have long dreamed of a kinder, slower, more connected world and maybe this will ultimately lead to it. Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

  • Loved this post. I’ve been in for 5 weeks. It’s just me and my kids so I’m the designated grocery shopper, but I’m very quick and strategic. Other than that, I’m home except for dog walks. I heard someone say, we will never know if we over-prepared, but we will know if we under-prepared. I keep that in mind when I Lysol my groceries and put on my mask. I’ve taken up gardening. I’m in Canada and we are still getting flurries so it’s just prep stuff but it’s good exercise and I feel like I’m more in control. I think we’ll be a kinder world when this is over. Stay safe!

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