It's Day 60 for us in quarantine. Even though we both worked from home before the Stay at Home order, things have changed. We keep running lists of supplies needed, review online orders before we send, and grocery orders the night before in case we need to add anything. We no longer shop in stores. We use drive through pick up for groceries, pharmacy and home improvement needs.
In some ways, life is the same. We still walk every morning, start work at our individual desks and watch TV in the evenings. But the TV we watch is aimed at shows that uplift. And even though we care deeply about the upcoming election, we can't seem to tolerate politics. I used to enjoy the opinion section of the newspaper. Now, I skip it. I miss eating out with family and friends and I worry about restaurant workers. I miss getting to know every dog we meet on our walks. I miss taking our animals to the vet and chatting with a whole office of animal lovers. I miss meeting with artist and writer friends. I look forward to Skype visits, but it doesn't compare to the real thing.
We're the first generation to drain a country of sanitizers, toilet paper and surgical masks. We're the first to experiment with a wide variety of hand sewn masks. The first generation to populate the internet with an abundant array of free entertainment and education. Artists are lifting spirits. Healers are healing, caretakers caring, teachers teaching, everyone giving what they can.
The sky is clearer, animals roaming freer and the earth sighing.
Today, my state lifted the Stay at Home order and began opening businesses. But we don't feel safe going out. We order more soap, sanitizer and masks, and we talk about the future with question marks.
What does a writer blog about in a pandemic? I've seen lots of blogs about how to carry on with writing, how to keep mentally healthy and forgive yourself for not being as productive. We're all feeling lost and off balance. Writers and artists might have some advantage. We're used to isolation. Most of us need it to create. But we also need stimulation and support.
I miss critiquing manuscripts over coffee and muffins with my writing partners. This week we'll Skype for the first time and critique online with our coffee at our desks. Can you imagine enduring the plagues of the past when there was no internet? We're the first generations to experience a worldwide epidemic and stay connected. It's a test of the internet's scope and of our tolerance for digital contact.
The term social distancing is kind of indicative of internet relationships. We can see and hear each other, but we can't touch. What will we be when we emerge from this pandemic? Will we be leery of showing our physical self to the world? Will we be shy of standing too close, of daring to touch another? Will hugs feel scary instead of comforting?
I'm a major introvert, so in some ways this isolation is a relief. I don't have to work up the courage to present myself to the public. I don't have to worry about my schedule becoming too crowded and have to talk myself out of panic. I don't have to make excuses when I'm too overwhelmed to accept an invitation. But I worry about total isolation becoming too comfortable. I treasure the relationships I have. I don't want to lose the comfort I've worked hard to feel when I'm with the people in my life. So this week when I Skype with my group, I'm going to strive to come to the meeting with the self I'd bring in person. And I'm going to keep imagining the day when we once again gather.
I hope you are all well and finding meaningful ways to connect.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor