On Friday morning, I got the girls ready for school, and then to school, before dashing to a meeting. After my meeting, I stopped by my regular grocery store for a few things. I had a short list: garlic bread for our pasta dinner later, and Lysol wipes.
I had heard people were buying Lysol wipes like crazy; they were marked as “currently unavailable” on Amazon (I checked on Thursday night). I better get some too, I thought, before they went the way of dinosaurs, shoulder pads and Waldenbooks.
I pulled into the parking lot and could barely find a spot. It was about 10 a.m. on a Friday—not usually Hannaford’s prime time. Huh?
I walked into the store, and there were no shopping carts at the main entrance. Zero. The inside of the store, meanwhile, was filled with people of all ages—not the typical older retiree/stay-at-home parent/flextime-schedule employee crowd you tend to find at a grocery store on a weekday morning.
I did, however, find a cart at the side entrance.
A little disoriented, I wheeled my cart into the household cleaners aisle. Much of the shelf space was bare. Makeshift signs for the Lysol and Clorox products noted, “Limit 2 per customer,” but none of these products were left.
I could have stocked up on Dr. Bronner’s, Mrs. Meyer’s and Incredible Pink supplies—Hannaford was in no danger of running out of these brands, I can report. But I already have a bunch of this all-natural, eco-consciously packaged, pleasantly scented, not-sure-if-it-actually-kills-germs stuff at home. Yeah, I’m all good in that department, friends. 😉
I better get some too, I thought, before they went the way of dinosaurs, shoulder pads and Waldenbooks.
At least I could get garlic bread; I did. As I wheeled my cart through the store, I noticed the carts others were pushing—carts overflowing with canned goods, pasta, paper products.
I’m not a hoarder (very much the opposite, actually). Not a panic buyer. There have been moments in my life when I have been laughably unprepared, yet managed to muddle through.
In this moment, though…Friday morning at Hannaford…I felt more and more unsettled, in a very physical way. I moved slower. I kept shaking my head, confused, uncertain.
I saw people buying a bunch of stuff…and so I bought a bunch of stuff too. I didn’t really know what to get (never was a Girl Scout, you know), so I grabbed rice, beans, cereal, soup, lots of meatballs to freeze (showing my Italian-American roots here), two cartons of my husband’s favorite spicy trail mix, and coffee (a no-brainer, amirite?).
Maybe I should have started coronavirus quarantine stockpiling weeks ago, months ago. It just never crossed my mind that there would be such a run on basic supplies…like toilet paper.
There really was no toilet paper left at Hannaford that day. No. Way. I stared at the empty shelves. This is an Internet meme, I thought.
Except…it was real life.
I got in one of the crowded checkout lines. Paid, drove home. I began unloading my new stockpile…and then the power went out.
I called Stanton. “It really feels like it’s the end of the world,” I said.
“It’s not,” he said.
As Friday unfolded, I received email after email with updates regarding our daily life. First, the girls’ schools were closed for Monday. Then they were closed Monday through Friday. Now they’re closed until April 1…but possibly later.
Our church services: now online. Spring lacrosse: canceled. Grace’s friend’s birthday party: postponed. The girls’ dentist’s office: hours and appointments currently suspended.
Anna and I were actually at our beloved local library that Friday afternoon when they made the decision to close early that day, and to remain closed until further notice. “We’ll miss all of you so much,” I told the librarians, whom I (used to) see at least once a week.
During the past three and a half years we’ve lived in this town we love, many of these folks in our community, from the librarians to the teachers at the girls’ schools to the baristas at my favorite corner coffee shop, have become, if not exactly family or friends, then certainly part of the fabric of our everyday life—the part that adds fullness, humanity, joy. It is weird to have these mandatory hiatuses from these people, these places.
And trying to keep up with all these communications can be a little overwhelming. I’ve received emails that various work due dates have been pushed back, which is helpful because, simultaneously, I’ve received emails with information regarding Grace’s and Anna’s learn-at-home curriculum for, let’s see here, the foreseeable future.
Side note: Pre-COVID-19, I never considered homeschooling my children. The thought never crossed my mind, not even in a dream…or nightmare… 😉
All attempts at humor aside…I know I have nothing, really, to complain about. I’m self-aware enough to recognize there are people who are truly struggling. For the moment, our family is healthy, thank God, and managing OK.
I am concerned about my 91-year-old grandmother, who lives in a nursing home that (understandably) isn’t allowing visitors right now. I’m not sure when I’ll see her again. I worry about my mom and dad, both of whom I love very much and both of whom are in their 60s. They live just a three-hour drive away from us, but I’m not sure when it would be wise for all of us to get together again. Overall, though, I feel as though we all are doing the best we can be doing.
It is weird to have these mandatory hiatuses from these people, these places.
Over the weekend, I cleaned our house, did a bunch of laundry, organized the girls’ dresser drawers (a seemingly insurmountable spring-cleaning task, the weekend before). Subconsciously, I must have been thinking, If I stress clean everything, maybe I’ll feel better.
Spoiler alert: Everything is clean, but mostly, I still feel…unsettled.
I don’t know when my little world, and the whole world, will feel more settled again. Impossible to know.
However, some things that have provided encouragement… Friends have been sharing helpful and creative “learning at home” ideas through Facebook. Because of this, I learned about the amazing lunch doodles that Mo Willems is hosting through the Kennedy Center. The girls watched an episode yesterday for the first time, and loved it. I’ve always loved Mo Willems, and now especially for this act of kindness toward children out of school due to closures.
Both a friend and a family member shared the idea for a neighborhood “shamrock hunt” yesterday, St. Patrick’s Day. The girls and I cut out, colored and Scotch-taped shamrocks to our front window, and then took a walk around the neighborhood to find other shamrocks. We didn’t find many others, but we did bump into various friends who were also out and about. It was so good to catch up, chitchat, commiserate…at a six-foot, socially safe distance, of course.
Thus, friendship has been encouraging. Family has been encouraging. Last week, Stanton’s company decided to halt employees’ business travel, and so he’s been home with us more, which has been really nice. We recently started watching the series “Luther,” which has provided wonderful, much-welcome end-of-day escapism. This increased family time together also prompted me to try spending the end of the day engaged with the ones I love, rather than scrolling through the news for the latest headlines (and horror stories).
Another silver lining during this time is that I am really, truly appreciating the food we have. Our family is not wasting anything because we’re not sure when we can replenish certain things, with grocery store lines being so long and store deliveries taking longer as well. It’s true that sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we don’t have it anymore, or it becomes more difficult to have.
I’m also really, truly appreciating my daughters. They’ve been so sweet to me as I try (and struggle, quite a bit) to semi-replicate their classroom teaching. Yesterday, Anna slapped a heart sticker on my sweatshirt (“Good job teaching, Mom!”), and Grace helped me access some online materials (of course my 8-year-old’s technology skills surpass my own).
Since Friday morning, I’ve learned…yes, there really is no toilet paper. No, stress cleaning doesn’t really help. Friendship does help; family is everything; there are still silver linings.
Be well, all. Looking forward to when things are better. ❤
Photo credit: Pixabay
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