March 19, 2020
Quarantine Week 1:
Schools are canceled, but the joke’s on us because we’re actually still on Spring Break. Somehow, the Coronavirus managed to cancel both school AND not-school. Good job, you piece of crap virus. Adding to the uncertainty about literally everything is the fact that our school is still formulating a plan, and has not yet told us what in the world our kids are going to do and/or study for the foreseeable future. The upshot is that every single student in the known universe is in pretty much the exact same predicament. Talk about grading on a curve — an entire generation will just find their educations short one quarter when they eventually graduate, and they’ll always have the vague sense that there’s something they’re lacking, but they’ll make up for it in their uncanny ability to over-buy toilet paper and make an entire meal out of a single apple.
We went to the Renaissance Festival last Saturday. I am an unabashed fan of the Arizona Renaissance Festival, with all of its lute music and jugglers and potters and turkey legs. I absolutely love it, so when the weather on Saturday was gorgeous and their website (a medieval website?? I know, such a non sequitur) stated that they were still open, I grabbed three of my boys and we hustled ourselves over. It was a perfect day in every way. Not long after that, they announced on their (preposterous) website that they would be closing for the season, so we were glad to get one visit in this year. (Side note to those whose teeth are clenched because I’m announcing that I went to a heavily populated place a week ago: we washed our hands a bazillion times, the event was entirely outdoors, and it was fully bathed in sunshine the whole time. From what I’ve heard, the jury’s still out on the sun’s effect on COVID-19, but this article is an interesting one regarding UV light and the flu virus.)
Church is canceled. On Sunday night we met for the last time with a few people from our small group, and prayed together. (We’ll be meeting over Zoom in the coming weeks.) I have…thoughts about church closures. I’m still working through those thoughts. In the meantime, I think Andy Crouch’s article on this point is rather good, although it’s practically irrelevant now, because he wrote it nine days ago, way back in the golden days of 100-person gatherings.
We ventured into the great outdoors again on Monday morning, hiking a fun trail with spectacular views. It turns out, lots and lots of other people had the same idea, so I just enjoyed the exercise and the fresh air and the time with my kids and our friends, and I soaked up the vitamin D and prayed that the sun’s rays would do their thang.
I went to the dentist the next morning. They all thanked me for braving the world to come in. I asked if they’ve had a lot of cancellations and they said there’ve been quite a few. “Funny,” they said, “because the way we sterilize things around here, this is probably one of the safest places you could be.”
I’ve gone to the grocery store a few times, and I’ve grabbed what seemed prudent. Todd has also gone a couple times, and “prudence” does not seem to be his guiding principle. Tonight he came home with milk (good), flowers (lovely), and a bunch of chips, soda, and half a dozen boxes of candy-flavored cereals (gross, and WHY?). So if you want to come eat breakfast on our porch, I’ll slide a bowl of Sour Patch Kids cereal out the window for ya.
I haven’t had any unpleasant experiences at the stores I’ve gone to, other than the overall unpleasant experience of seeing empty shelves and wondering at every moment if I’m inhaling a sick person’s spittle. (Spittle is a gross word. And a gross thing. Stay away, spittle.) There’s been an odd sense of camaraderie at the stores I’ve gone to, because we really are all in this together.
We’re all in “this” together. This…..virus? Outbreak? Epidemic? Pandemic? Quarantine? Economic collapse? Conspiracy theory? Horrible fluke? This is, without a doubt, the strangest thing I have ever experienced in my life.
And no one knows what to do! In the course of a few days, we’ve gone from having gatherings no larger than 100 people, to no larger than 50, to no larger than 10, to none at all. My kids are still hanging out with their cousins, and occasionally a healthy friend will come over. I KNOW. There are some people who will read that line and faint away with shock at my foolhardiness. Then again, there are medical professionals out there who do not faint away with shock when the topic of small gatherings is broached. But does anybody really know what they’re talking about? I don’t, and you don’t either. We all have opinions, and a small few have educated guesses, but nobody KNOWS, because this thing is new and even the experts are still scrambling to figure it out.
And so here we are. We’re playing board games and taking walks and baking bread and rationing out how many eggs we’re allowed to eat at breakfast. We’re waiting hungrily for news and updates, we’re sharing memes, and we’re feeling guilty when people post about how we shouldn’t use memes to make light of the situation. Some people are keeping us laughing, others are reminding us how serious everything is, others are sharing their art and creativity through social media, and the rest of us are gobbling it all up (with clean hands, of course).
Meanwhile, due to everyone’s sadness about social distancing, I’ve had more texts, Marco Polos, What’s App, phone calls, and Zoom meetings than I’ve ever had before in my life, and that’s on top of the huge amount of time I (along with everyone else) am spending on social media. As an introvert, I was looking forward to some quarantine-induced alone time, but I’ve got my kids around me 24/7, and little tantalizing notifications dinging on my phone almost as often.
So, this is 2020. And this was quarantine week 1. Time for some Hershey’s Kiss cereal.