I think everyone is doing a lot of thinking about what they were doing a year ago today. I know I am.
I just looked at my dining room table and remembered my grandsons being here at the beginning of the pandemic. So many thoughts whirred through my head—how scared we were—how unbelievable it all was—how I was always trying to figure out what to make for dinner for college-aged kids—how we couldn’t find toilet paper or hand sanitizer or masks.
I remember getting my neighbor masks for her and her husband. I left them out on the bench by our front door. She’d wanted to pay me for them, and I’d said, “Don’t even worry about it.” When she picked up the masks, she left me a spray can of Lysol. I was so grateful, I got tears in my eyes.
That established a pattern of neighbors helping neighbors through the months. We kept in touch by phone, email or text. If someone needed something, we all pitched in to help—even if it wasn’t in person.
This was about the time I started using Shipt. I didn’t go to a grocery story for months. I did have to go to Costco myself because I needed to have my Shingles shot booster. I was so nervous!
This is also when we became addicted to Netflix and Prime Video. Through the grapevine or our kids, we’d hear about a great series. My husband is a binge watcher while I like to space things out. He went ahead in “Yellowstone” and I felt like he’d cheated on me!
Eventually, we had our first socially distanced cocktail hour with our neighbors. It was the first of many.
“It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable.”
I thought this column was going to be about how it feels to be a grandparent of a Westlake High graduate. I planned to grouse a bit about sitting in the stands as the heat of the sun attacked us while we waited for the ceremony to start. I planned to write about my pride in watching my Valedictorian granddaughter cross the stage to receive her diploma. I was going to write about how time is passing so quickly and how bittersweet that is.
But that was before COVID-19. That was when I still had the luxury to wonder if I could wear a large sunhat in the stands to protect my aging skin—and my hair color! As if…
Now my granddaughter will not have a graduation ceremony at all. She won’t get to throw her mortarboard up in the air in celebration. She won’t get to walk with the other Valedictorians. The world is a different place now. I don’t think it will ever be quite the same, and that’s not all bad.
Charles Darwin said that the survival of a species is all about their ability to adapt to their environment. And that’s what I see happening around me. We’re adapting to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
For instance, the hours I used to spend in the beauty salon, I’m now using to clean the house. I’m finding it satisfying in a strange way. I’d always wondered how to use a Swiffer. I’d see it in the aisle in the grocery story and it seemed a mystery to me. Not any more. But then someone told me about the power mop and I upgraded immediately.ve also found out about the wonders of the Clorox toilet bowl wand. My grandson, Garrett, and I tried it out together. Wow, did it clean the toilet bowl in a jiffy!
I have to admit that one day I was so industrious with my Clorox and Lysol that I gave myself an asthma attack from inhaling the cleaning solutions. My throat was very sore and I began to cough—you can imagine what I imagined. Even my husband was concerned.
“Take your temperature,” he ordered.
It was my normal 97. 2.
Have you noticed that the things you prize after February 2020 are different than before? I first was aware of this during my cleaning frenzy when I checked under my bathroom sink and found a full bottle of Clorox spray cleaner. You’d have thought I won the Power Ball jackpot!
I’m also finding that we use things differently. My grandson, Evan, found a shell on the beach that must have been there for a while as it was crusted with sand and debris. Normally I’d have had him soak it in rubbing alcohol to see if it would bring up the shine. Because we had more Vodka in the house, we used that instead. We’re also learning to conserve. I can’t even imagine discarding a roll of toilet paper that isn’t down to the bare cardboard tube.
I see another positive pattern: neighbors helping each other out. It’s as simple as people checking with each other to see if they need something at the store. One day I found a source for masks and bought them for three families.
When Kathy came to pick hers up on the bench outside my door, she left me a bottle of Lysol spray. I was overwhelmed by her generosity.
I believe most people crave the company of others. We want to see each other and share important events together. Zoom, Skype and FaceTime are tools we’ve adopted to adapt our situation so we can do this. Even I, who can’t use the TV remote control, learned to create a meeting on Zoom so my creative writing class could meet.
We’ve had an unusual opportunity for adaptation. Two of our grandsons and their friends came for Spring Break and ended up hunkering with us in Hawaii. Every day, Moe and I have known how lucky we are to have these lively cheerful human beings with us. My only problem was learning to adapt to the amount of food young adults can eat. My first meatloaf, made in an 8X8 pan was way too small. The next, in a 13X9 filled the bill.
Adapting to how I really look is in another realm of Reality. Without Botox, my face is beginning to fold into a piece of origami. One thing I’m glad about is the loose elastic band of my sweatpants because my comfort eating has gotten out of hand. I find I can’t live without my Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds. Or my double martini. As for the gray hair? I have used the Madison Reed hair product I bought so I don’t like so skunkish.
Staying home to stay safe has not been easy for such a mobile society as ours. We’re used to flying here and there, maybe on a whim. One of my favorite things is going to movies—I just read that may be a thing of the past. Warner Bros. pulled one of its big summer movies from release in theaters; it will go straight to video-on-demand. Universal did the same.
One of the hardest parts of the lockdown has been not being able to touch our loved ones. But keeping safe has been worth it. It not only helps us, it keeps our whole society safer. Even though I know that’s true, there’s a part of me that can’t help wishing I could still be in the Westlake High School stands, sweating through my clothes, watching my granddaughter graduate. I swear I’d never complain about anything again.