We went to Shelby’s yesterday, the one place we go to other than the market on a regular basis in 2020. The highlight of the visit was watching Portia decorate the Christmas cookies she and Nana (Karen, Bryan’s mom, who is here from Kentucky) made earlier in the day. Portia did the decorating with the help of Nana, Glam (Pam, who wants to be called Grammy, but Portia can only say Glam), Mimi (Kimberly, who Portia calls Mimi), and, of course, Shelby (Portia’s mom). We will see them again on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, having celebrated Hanukah with them the week earlier.
When we go to Shelby’s we feel somewhat normal, going somewhere and not thinking about COVID, something that has happened all too infrequently this year. Clearly, we miss leading our normal life, seeing friends, going to restaurants, listening to live music, going to the movies, or just relaxing, but not as much as I would have expected.
We have been living the life of COVID for nine months. Long enough for memories of our past activities to dissolve into the recesses of our fading, geriatric minds. Long enough to gestate a human. More than long enough for me to adapt to it.
As I sit here writing this, I am riding a wave of La Nina spawned, drought enhancing sunshine in Los Angeles. I long for clouds and rain. Partly, because we need it, but also for any reason other than COVID not to venture outside. That is not going to happen anytime soon.
As 2020 draws to its inexorable close, I have been reflecting on it. I am essentially home, not homeward, bound, and I am embracing it all too readily. Apparently, I am letting my inner hermit flag fly, the part of me that eschews the rest of the world. Sometimes I wonder if my virus induced exile from the outside world will remain my normal state post COVID, as I actually enjoy my hermit lifestyle. Well most of it, anyway.
I freely admit that I am extremely lucky. Part of what has enabled me to adapt so readily to my new reality is that I have a great family.
Pam is smart enough, or tolerant enough, of my quirks to just ignore them. COVID has practically eliminated my Porsche related activities, and, hence, comments and stories, which has made that easier on her. Though to some extent they have been replaced by my incessant comments about my Tonal, the newest toy in my life.
Kim, who is stuck here until COVID ends, generally ignores my quirks until she feels she has to rip the crap out of me for being weird, her way of dealing with my irritating habits and reminding me she loves me. I am lucky she still readily accepts my advice when she needs it, playing the plaintive Ddddadddddddyyyy card when necessary, and gladly consuming my meals when I cook them for her.
I see Shelby, Portia and Bryan weekly, though Pam sees them more often than that. Getting the chance to spend time with Portia, watching her grow and learn and begin to embrace her terrible twos, has been the highlight of the year for me. I like it when she says, “Glump, do this.” Or, “Glump, do that.” My chosen monicker is Grumpy, but she calls me Glump. I admit it is fun being bossed around by a 20 month old.
I am able to work from home. My 20 year old threadbare, dust impregnated, bargain basement desk chair has become my COVID equivalent of a La-Z-Boy recliner, albeit less comfortably. My 27 inch 4K computer monitor is my fixed window to the world, though my TVs, iPhone and iPad also fill that role to some extent. Shockingly, that seems to be sufficient, as I sit in front of my computer, even when I have no work to do. Somehow it feels comforting and natural to just sit in my chair, despite my glutes falling asleep while doing so.
When COVID started I bemoaned the lack of new TV programming. As I have written about before, I have always been a die-hard consumer of Network TV pablum. I used to enjoy watching without being engaged or stressed or educated. NCIS has been my go to show for years, though SWAT had been giving it a run for its money late last year. Since COVID, I have spent hours watching programming with Pam on services I rarely had used before. Shows that I never would have seen without COVID. A lot of it was garbage. Right down there with the Real Housewives and the Bachelor, but some of it was good, really good actually, a fact that should scare the hell out of Network TV, as I actually had no idea there were new episodes of NCIS and SWAT until four weeks after their seasons started.
The other area that has helped me adapt to our new normal has been my ability to continue to exercise. I have been running outside for the past nine months, something I have not done in decades, and I truly love it. Additionally, I invested in a Tonal to enable me to lift weights in the comfort of my house. It was a life changing purchase, as I love the machine and have found a whole new community of supportive, non-political posters on Facebook. Another unintended, but thoroughly appreciated, by-product of the Tonal was that it has given me a chance to rekindle my somewhat stagnant, long-distance relationship with my sister, Arlene, who also bought one. We have been chatting like teenagers on a weekly basis about this coach’s program or the degree of difficulty of that exercise.
In the decades I worked out prior to COVID, I never spent much time in exercise classes, preferring to do my own thing on my own terms and avoiding all the class based drama at Equinox. I have to admit that I find it a tad disconcerting that I am becoming a groupie of several Tonal coaches, going as far as referring to them as my senseis.
I do not physically interact with anyone else other than my brief dialogs with my cronies who work at the market and bagel store and the occasional person delivering the new items we have purchased or those that come here to provide a quote for some home improvement we want to make. I think I actually amazed Kim and Shelby recently when I spoke about the conversation about parsnips I had with Ron, the produce guy I know at Pavilions.
So 2020 is winding down, and here I sit. At my desk. Something I do daily. My glutes falling asleep in my threadbare, dust impregnated, bargain basement chair, as I stare at my window to the world. Today was not much different from yesterday or the day before. This week was not much different from the week before. This month was not much different from the month before. It is just the same broken record. Month in month out.
My inner hermit loves being embraced. It loves that I have adapted to being homebound and that I am living the COVID life. Of course, it also fearfully wonders how long it will take me to banish it sometime next year. I wish I knew.