My Google Maps Timeline is boring: I haven't been anywhere since my grocery store outing on April 21st. Not that I'm suffering much, except for not being able to forget that we celebrated Porter's birthday quietly, when the pre-COVID-19 plans were for his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren all to be here celebrating with him. Trust me, that would not have been quiet. Other than that, there's always so much going on at home that boredom is out of the question.
But sometimes one must leave the house, and this week was Porter's turn.
His first trip, to Costco during their "senior hours," was very successful. They are now very well organized with their shopping and check-out procedures, so that shopping was not stressful and felt safe. The shelves were stocked, including toilet paper and kleenex.
His second and third trips were successful, but not so comfortable. Our favorite local pool store was not practicing any form of distancing, the employees didn't wear masks, and they still required the credit card slip to be signed, happily providing the same pen to all customers.
I'm not at all convinced that the masks do as much good as many people think. But they contain the larger droplets, and—effective or not—are a statement that the store and the people are at least thinking about safety.
This coming week may be my outing. It's impossible to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, so I'll probably make a trip to the grocery store when the senior shopping days come around. Unless we get a big spike in cases due to things beginning to open up around here.
Still no church, though. It's frustrating to see how different my own values are from what is revealed by the phased-in "return to normal" schedule. And it's not just crazy American priorities: in Switzerland, hair salons were in the first phase! True, I could use a haircut, but I'd hardly give that high priority, and no one is going to give me a haircut from six feet away. They're also sending kids back to school, which really makes no sense at all, and I'm glad our district is staying closed for the rest of the school year. It's still illegal for people to gather in groups greater than five in Switzerland, even with social distancing—yet they're sending children to classrooms of several times that, and you know they cannot—and will not, even if they could—stay six feet apart. Here, restaurants are among the first businesses to open; again, something I consider dangerous and so far from a necessity I'd keep them closed a lot longer.
If we really can afford to open things back up, I'm grateful. I just don't want to move so fast that we have to clamp down again for a second (or third, or fourth) wave. You know, like going back to normal eating too soon after a bout of stomach flu. Besides, I don't really want to return to "normal." If we don't find ourselves in a "new normal" that is better than the old one—as individuals, families, communities, businesses, and governments—we will have wasted the suffering of the last few months. Let's learn something! Let's learn a lot.
At least my closets are getting cleaned—and that's no small thing to be thankful for.