by Mary Robertson, 04/21/2020, Northport, MI
Is It Bad That I’m Starting to Like This?
There are plenty of terrible things about Corona. I mean in the micro sense at my little house, in my little life, not the macro things like people dying around the world, small businesses shuttering and the stock market in a tailspin. Around here it’s things like boredom, carb loading, seeing other humans as germy enemies (even those we love) and sugar consumption so rampant that I may be toothless by the end of this.
But lately, just this week—a month into confinement—I find myself strangely content. I’m kind of liking the nowhere-to-go-nothing-to-do sameness of the days. The new nightly ritual of a walk or dance party with my kids, followed by a home-cooked dinner and then Rom-Com du jour which can now come from Netflix, Amazon OR Hulu since my youngest brought that subscription home with her. And the mornings of either Zoom yoga from my local studio or Zoom Qigong from my friend Jill’s instructor in New York, an ancient exercise regime I’d never heard of before.
For my own amusement, I’ve started rotating the four or five sets of pajamas I own, since I put them on right after dinner and may not take them off again until after lunch. And thanks to Zoom sessions of my wonderful writing group, the self-dubbed Ladies of the Long Table, now in diaspora at our separate tables, I’ve been writing every single day, sometimes several times during the day. Which is funny, since I can’t sit still long enough to read more than a page of a novel, my favorite pre-Corona pastime. They just seem irrelevant right now. I could read every word in The New York Times, but I limit myself to Sundays when all the Corona reporting is offset by at least a few uplifting tales of people still getting married and comedians doing standup from their bedroom closets.
And I am having a creative renaissance. I’ve already knit three scarves out of lovely yarn I had in stock and went on my community’s list serve to borrow some crochet needles so I can finally teach myself (thank you Youtube!) how to master that craft that my mom was a whiz at. I’ve been hand-making cards for loved ones with April birthdays, started making bookmarks out of recycled cardboard, and hand colored a cutout from the paper—a large sign to hang in the front window thanking essential workers for their service. And I’m playing more piano than I’ve ever played and wishing my ukulele weren’t up north.
And most surprising of all—I’m getting used to teaching remotely. I feel like a kid on Christmas every time I see a student’s face pop up in a Zoom call and I’ve finally mastered flipping my phone camera to show my hand on the keyboard. Instead of having kids trudge through my white-carpeted living room with their muddy shoes, parents and siblings in tow, I now get to see their home environment, hear their hopelessly out of tune pianos, experience the distractions of barking dogs, parents on phone calls and siblings playing video games. I’m newly understanding of their struggles to practice and have started doing extra lessons with those falling behind. I’ve upped my game as a teacher because I’ve had to. I’m taking better notes after lessons, dressing in bright colors and wearing makeup, sending out song suggestions for in-home dance parties and family sing-alongs.
And quarantine dating suits me just fine. I’m better on the page than in person and the anonymity somehow makes it a safe place for self-revelation. I went through one entire romance, cradle to grave, in 30 days. In real life I suspect I might’ve invested a couple years in those warm brown eyes before finding the broken human behind them. But if people want to phone chat, I’m out. I give terrible phone for reasons I can’t quite understand myself. I think I’m pretty attentive and engaged in person, but on the phone I just find myself wanting it all to be over as soon as possible. In normal times when someone wants to call me I just jump straight to “why don’t we meet for coffee instead” which, of course, is not possible now. So I may miss a few opportunities, but so be it.
Interestingly, this was mentioned by my youngest daughter just this week as she recounted the few things she is enjoying about Corona. This child’s love language is physical touch and even at age 20, she likes to sit close to me on the couch, link arms with me when we walk and occasionally put her head in my lap during conversations. She said she misses talking to me when she’s at school, because I’m just no good on the phone. She said she knows I try, but that there is this nervous energy just below the surface and such a strong desire to hang up that it comes right through the air waves. Here she can talk to me whenever she wants, complain endlessly about her online (almost nonexistent) instruction and let me make her meals and do her laundry (when did she switch from sensible cotton underwear to silky thongs anyway?!?!)
And her presence under my roof is the best imaginable silver-lining of Corona. The comfort of knowing she is upstairs, sleeping or studying or texting her friends brings ridiculous joy to my days, to my life. I have longed for a partner ever since losing my husband five years ago, but right now I’m completely content with the roommate I’ve got—the one who expresses her love and appreciation every day, makes me laugh, shares what she’s learning and sometimes picks up the guitar my husband made to sing a little Billie Eilish.
This is happiness. Thank you Corona? No, thank you universe for the gift of a few small good things in the midst of worldwide disaster.