Sandra’s Review: Very entertaining and well-written
Day 3 of social distancing. All of the introverts are planting their gardens, working on their knitting projects and digging out their bird identification books after that sighting in the backyard—it’s springtime!
We extroverts are staring at the fingernail grooves in our walls. Those grooves say a lot about us, yet are surprisingly poor conversationalists. My introverted husband is puttering around in his basement workshop while I am practicing emergency evacuation techniques and quietly sobbing into my sleeve.
On day 1 I turned to social media. I have but 3 options. Facebook, texting and email. Wait, there’s always actual calling, hearing the voices of other people. But then people would be locked down into having a chin-wag with me for longer than they’d wish. Or maybe they’d enjoy it as much as I would. Just thinking about it takes me back to the days when I was a teen, thrilled to be called to the phone, picking up the extension in my parents’ bedroom and twirling the cord for a longer time than was allotted by those who paid the bill. I’m beginning to think anyone over 60 would love to hear my voice. We pay the bills now!
I turned to texting the squad, my 4 local friends with whom I have an ongoing group text conversation. Though I love the exchanges, they are short and interspersed. I answer a question 5 texts too late. Sometimes I have to use the bathroom, then find myself missing points that might have had juicy retorts if written with spot-on comedic timing. I am not well versed in adding those cute bitmojicons or music videos or relevant photos. I am dull by text. Jokes fall flat and witty comebacks come back well past their impactable time frames.
Another friend mentioned that all this social media is not necessary. My phone is like that rope they throw you when you fall off the back of the ship and are floundering in rough seas. This friend suggested withdrawing this one lifeline, telling me that now is the time to turn inward. No. I’ve gone inward, it’s a fucking madhouse in there. That’s why I like to go out, meet with friends, strangers and fellow bus passengers. The thought of going inward for more than about 30 minutes of meditation a day is daunting.
Of course, I tap that inner sanctum every time I sit down to write. That’s not introspection, its transcribing. In order to meditate, I have to shut down the head circus, which is much stronger than my will, more powerful than silence and has an infinite shelf life. I can eat up a small portion of my day with meditation and exercise. Then I have to clamp eyes on someone, speak and be spoken to, laugh, observe and be a part of human interaction. After so many days (it’s been 3), this distancing thing is not working out for me.
Keeping oneself busy within one’s own walls is the key, I’m told. Introverts have the upper hand; they do stuff at home anyway. There are no activities I do on a regular basis which can hold my interest for more than a short-period of time. Like a pinball machine, I bounce from baking, to playing my ukulele to listening to a Spanish podcast, flipping the levers to drive myself toward the various diversions I usually enjoy doing when I am not forced into doing them. Many of my friends (per Facebook) are binge-watching shows on TV. For the first time, I can’t find anything I haven’t already watched or want to watch.
Self-helpers declare that we should be exploring new activities, projects we have longed to do, but never had the time to start, using our creative energy toward developing new, innovative ways to keep ourselves from going bonkers. This time alone is the perfect opportunity to learn and grow. Now where can I buy those taxidermy supplies?
Day 4 of social distancing. It’s been 4 days since I rode the bus, that rolling crate chock-full of viral possibilities. My last bus ride was full, cheek-to-jowl, standing-room-only, shoulda-taken-an-Uber full. Thankfully, Mr. Grumpy was not on board. Mr. Grumpy is a passenger full of rage. He daily wears the same thread-bare pair of corduroy pants and army camo jacket, even in the summer. I don’t know if he is homeless or not, but he hates everyone and everything and has no difficulty vehemently expressing his distaste. I have often seen him schlepping about downtown streets contemptuously ordering people out of his way. Last week he was coughing on the bus, displaying his disdain for the general population by not covering it up with the sleeve of his filthy camo jacket or even his hand. Not one passenger dared to reprimand him, though I knew we all secretly wanted to collectively grab him by the back of his clothes and toss him off the bus at the next stop. Gang mentality or cooperative safety initiatives?
There came a ray of hope on day 4—the sun came out. Since many neighbors were working from home, a parade of people and their dogs soon trailed past our mountain casita. Mindy, our dog, was not able to contain her excitement, running back and forth from front door to window to window to back door. The barking became unbearably frequent. My husband and I saddled her up for a long walk of our own. Our neighbors across the street had assembled some sort of charity give-away station in their front yard. People were driving up and grabbing boxes of small parcels which appeared to be full of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Maybe some foodstuffs. These altruistic neighbors were too busy with this project to query them of its nature. We admired them for their efforts from a socially-acceptable distance.
As we rounded the corner, a red car stopped in a place no car should ever stop because it is a narrow passageway on a hill/curve road combination that might surprise someone approaching in a vehicle from either direction. The driver, a blond woman with a big smile politely asked after our dog. Then asked where we lived. We hesitantly disclosed our street name and how exciting (to her) she had just been to her sister’s house on that very street. Did we know her sister Sandy, number 21, brick house? No. Car coming, nice talking to you!
Later that evening as we strolled through our small neighborhood, we stopped to gab with some friends out taking their own post-dinner walk. On our way back, we passed a group of people picnicking on the front lawn of number 21. We asked for Sandy. A blond lady with a curious look on her face raised her hand. Now we know her, her husband, her gregarious sister and 2 other neighbors.
As we ambled toward home, we were reminded of those times in Texas after a hurricane would blow through. Everyone would come outside to check on each other and clear away the debris. By commiserating curbside, we would become acquainted with folks we had not previously known, sharing candles or bags of ice to help each other through the aftermath. Now we are sharing talk time. It’s important to us, these connections. Whether they were made decades ago or on day 4 of social distancing, we cherish the value of reaching out even if it isn’t through the channels we are used to.
On day 4, as I open my mailbox to find a Netflix video, I am thrilled that it is Harriet, a tale of real struggle that puts my dilemma in perspective. The US mail! It always arrives—except during a Cat-5 hurricane or maybe a few days after the flood. It has been reliably arriving at my house in Asheville via Mike from Boston, our mail carrier. Expect overflowing letters, drawings and what-nots from me. Stamps ordered online. Please wash your hands after opening, I may have been stuffing a raccoon.
Really, most assuredly yours,
Guest Editor Sandra is working from home. She’s a writer by profession, so I always welcome her input. It’s good for a sentence to make sense.