While this pandemic is hardly over, for many of us it is at least finally starting to end. This means that those of us (me) who are totally vaccinated can now go back out and enjoy some level of what once counted as normal life.
I actually went to a restaurant where a waiter filled my water glass and asked if there was anything else he could get me. After an extremely long year, I was finally being waited on again. And the food that came to the table was fresh and hot – not warm and in a bag, box and god knows how much other wrappings. No, this was fresh and hot and someone else cooked it and put it on a plate. Then, get this, he asked if I wanted cheese on my soup. Asked! Offered to do it! I almost jumped up and demanded to be allowed to adopt him.
If there is one thing that this year has taught me, it is that all foods do not travel the same. Some arrive in edible shape. Some need to be put in bowls and nuked. Some arrive soggy. And some are totally inedible. At first, it was simply a crap shoot. Didn’t know from one meal to another whether it would be edible. After one year cooped up in this house, I have a detailed list that includes only foods that travel well. I could probably sell it for a lot of money if I wasn’t sure that I’m not the only person with this list.
During the pandemic, I started to order from restaurants in the hope of recreating a real restaurant visit. It doesn’t work. Eating restaurant food alone in your house while watching NCIS reruns is simply no substitute for the aforementioned waiter with a cheese grater in hand.
The other thing I learned during this pandemic is that my house was falling apart. I was able to fix the most critical problems. However, I would never recommend having floors replaced on hot summer days when you have to sit in a closed bedroom with your dogs so they don’t bother the workers.
After doing most of the “had to” stuff, I branched out and bought some new appliances. This wasn’t totally voluntary. Both my microwave and my refrigerator exploded during the pandemic. I tried to pretend this was the fun stuff I’d saved money to buy in my old age. But then, you know, microwave and refrigerator.
I rediscovered the value of the friendships I’ve managed to make during my years in Alaska. We never lost touch. Always checked in. Started meeting when possible. Brought lots of food and did what we’d always loved doing – eating, laughing and talking. It’s just we did it six feet apart and with masks on. Other friends stepped up to help with groceries and Costco trips so I could minimize my contacts with the outside, germy world.
Only that left me inside with three dogs and three parrots. It’s hard to maintain what the outside world would call sanity when you are living under these conditions. If I thought I talked to my dogs before this, they now leave the room to get away from me because they think I’m too much of a Chatty Cathy. Even my parrots, who usually scream with delight at any and all human interactions, reached the point where they went silent and turned their backs to me.
I found myself relating to characters on TV shows I was watching. They became kind of my pandemic family. I felt as though characters from NCIS and Mom and Young Sheldon were so my family that I talked back to them when the show was on as if they could hear and respond. And let’s not even get me started about my books and magazines. During this past year, I have become somewhat of an expert on British history thanks to not one but two magazines I get every month on the topic. Need someone to help you with your thesis on Vanity Fair by Thackery? I’m your girl. Wanna discuss the world of Jane Austin? Sit down beside me.
I’m happy and sorry to see the pandemic go. Sorry because now I will have to have an excuse for why I never want to go out and actually prefer reading in bed at night to being surrounded by people – even people I like. But then, you know, waiter with cheese grater – happy.