I’m tired. Not the kind of tired from not having enough sleep or the being bored kind of tired, but the heavy cloaked tired that comes with not knowing mixed with fear and anxiety and topped off with the new realities that even after over 2 months, I’m still having a hard time with. I heard a name for this today – coronavirus fatigue. The symptoms for coronavirus fatigue didn’t present themselves immediately for me, but rather were gradual in their onset, but now seem to be present daily. Walking, nature, painting and writing seem to offer temporary relief.
Things in Boulder are starting to change and last Saturday was the “soft” opening of retail shops. The doors opened to new rules of spacing and mandatory masks, but still, the doors opened and customers entered. I walked down Pearl Street, the Main Street downtown where the majority of the shops and restaurants are, out of curiosity. It was the eeriest walk down Pearl I’ve ever experienced in my short 9 months of living here. People were walking around wide-eyed and curious, as if seeing everything for the first time. It reminded me of when people exit their homes during the quiet after a big storm to assess the damage, with a vulnerability that made it seem like we had just gotten up and were still in our pajamas. Wider than normal swaths of gray roots and hair that looked long overdue for a trim were the norm. Something about that felt reassuring to me. My own hair is about 3 inches past its haircut due date, so no judgement there, just observation. Some of the shops had music playing and doors wide open, giving a sense of celebration to the area but even so, something didn’t feel right or normal or as it had been before. I realized that I hadn’t seen that many people in one place in a very long time and even with distancing and probably less than 1/4 of the population that would normally be there on a beautiful Saturday, it seemed like a lot of people to me. The other odd thing was seeing everyone with a mask on. It still looks like a science fiction movie to me, but at the same time, I was grateful to see so many people following the rules.
I went into one of the shops, simply because I could I guess, but had no intentions of buying anything as I didn’t have my wallet with me. I had passed by the shop window many times on my walks during the past 2 months and had seen something in the window that caught my eye, so wanted a closer look. The thing, an old wooden vessel of sorts, was just as intriguing in person as it had been through the shop window but I’ve got to say, I had no desire whatsoever to go home, get my money and return for the purchase. In fact, I had no desire to buy anything. I know the small businesses need all the help they can get, but spending money on myself for things totally unnecessary didn’t feel right to me and being in a store, regardless of the distancing didn’t feel right either. At least not yet. Having adhered closely to the “quarantine rules,” my re-entry will be slow. And I’m nervous, but I am getting out. I’m going to the grocery store and made a few trips to a local nursery for flowers. This, to me, is the scary part. I’m afraid that with each venture out to a new public venue, I will get more and more casual about touching things and physical distancing. I know it’s odd, but I’m afraid I’ll be so distracted by the plants, the flowers, the produce, the shoes, the books, that I’ll forget about the virus, even while donning a mask. Again, my re-entry will be cautious and slow.
My way of dealing with difficult situations is to only take on what I can handle, a gradual easing in process. It’s nothing I do consciously but rather seems to be the mechanism my psyche has set up as a matter of protection. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. Had I been told 2 months ago to prepare for a solo quarantine for 2 plus months then a gradual return to a very different reality, I’m not sure what I would have done. After hearing about the 2 week “self-isolation,” daunting as it was, I prepared both physically and emotionally and was ready for the challenge. And now, a month and a half later from that “challenge” when I hear things like “mid to late summer for large gatherings… maybe, airline travel will come with risk or stock up on masks as we will be wearing them for a very long time,” my reaction is a flat, dull, sure, OK… hardly what it was when I heard 2 weeks isolation. I’ve become desensitized but know my psyche has a hand in that. What I can manage right now is today. Just today. I’m living the lesson I’ve always tried to put into play – living in the moment – and that lesson has become a matter of emotional survival for me.
I love my walks. Still. I love getting to know my neighborhood and beyond and have to wonder how “deep” I would have gotten on my walks had it not become a very important 2 hours of my day simply for my sanity as well as my physical well-being. I drove to a small garden center a few days ago as I was told they practice very strict and safe distancing measures. I had to think about how to get there from my house, given one way streets that don’t matter when walking. Driving felt strange. I can’t say that I loved it. The last time I filled my car with gas was on my return trip from KC the first of March. I still have 3/4 of a tank. Once we’re back to our “new normal,” I hope to spend more time on foot or on my bike doing my errands, which I’m still wondering exactly what those errands that had me in and out of my car several times a day even were? Yes, things will look different, be different, feel different and for much of that, I’m thankful.
I walked past the Catholic Church down the street from me on Mother’s Day and couldn’t help but notice that the parking lot was relatively full, something that looks out of place these days. My curiosity got the best of me and I stopped to try and figure out what was going on. When I saw the sign that gave the radio station to tune into, I realized that it was Mother’s Day mass in drive-in form. The priest was on a small covered “stage” at the front of the parking lot and the congregation were in their cars listening from their radios. Once it was over and the cars started leaving, I saw a couple of men stationed at the exit who were handing out flowers to the mothers in the cars. They’ve figured it out. Mass while maintaining social distancing. Maybe I’m just nosey or maybe I’m curious or maybe I crave conversations with others, but I did cobble together a conversation in Spanish with a woman who was leaving the mass to confirm what I thought. Yes, Mother’s Day Mass in cars. Honoring their religion, their mothers and the social distancing.
Yes, I’m nosey and curious and am stopping people more and more often these days simply to ask questions and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how friendly most have been. A couple of the restaurants with large plate glass windows in front have put large pieces of plywood over the windows during the temporary shut down, I’m guessing to stave off possible looting. It was sad and rather forbidding to see. A few days ago I walked past the same windows only to see they had been painted over with a beautiful landscape. I was lucky enough to be there as the artists were working on one of the window paintings and had a nice conversation with them. It was suggested that maybe the paintings could be auctioned off once the restaurants re-opened and the money given to the restaurant association to help those who have suffered so much during the quarantine. Maybe one of the restaurants would want the painting on an interior wall? I asked them if they’d mind if I just watched them paint for a bit and they said absolutely not and so I did. There are a lot of stories out there. I’m happy to hear some of them
Observations: 6 feet. We all know exactly what it looks like now with tape X’s and lines on the floors of the stores. The lines to get into stores often seem incredibly long, with the monitoring of one in one out rule, until I realized that there is 6 feet between every person and in reality, it’s only a handful of people who are making the line stretch out so long. It is the measurement of my life these days and I know by heart what it looks and feels like. How odd it will feel when we can all bunch together again, with ” excuse me” and “so sorry,”, when body parts accidentally touch. The thought seems very foreign to me right now.
I’ll let my photos tell the rest… always the most interesting part of my days…
Stay safe. Stay hopeful.