Monday, May 11, 2020

Another Day in May with Scarlett

EvgeniT via Pixabay
This morning, I had to get up, get dressed and leave the house on time for the first time in two months. My dad had a dental emergency, and I was his designated driver.

I slept poorly last night, which is not at all surprising. Though I tried to go to bed a little earlier than I have been, an allergy tickle, a beeping cordless phone, and the fact that I had to get up by a certain time made my sleep restless and, sometimes, elusive. As often happens, the anxious anticipation was far out of proportion to the task at hand.

One reason for this is a worry I've been keeping to myself -- that once it was time to go back to a routine that involved wearing real clothes and real shoes and actually leaving the house, I might not like it very much. Afraid I've grown too comfortable in my semi-isolation, with nearly all of my family practically within arm's reach, I've pushed those uncomfortable thoughts aside, my Scarlett O'Hara plan ("I'll think about that tomorrow!") abundantly in evidence.

To me, at least. As I said, these dark thoughts have been among those I keep to myself.

I've been managing my anxiety about all that is COVID by staying put and drawing my family into a tight circle with boundaries that are only as flexible as they have to be. As long as we're here, together, we're safe. My dad, too, is safe, as his community has drawn similar lines, and the rest of my family, sheltering in their various places, is nearly all employed and safe as well. I haven't minded the solitude, the sameness, or the time indoors because that was what was keeping me safe.

As it turns out, today's trip outside not only my home, but my comfort zone as well, was a good one (for the driver, if not for the patient, who was referred to an oral surgeon). Though the wind and rain are picking up now, this morning was sunny and cool, but not cold. The roads weren't busy and I had good company in the car. At the dentist's office, I wasn't allowed inside (essential personnel only), so I sat in my car with my laptop, chipping away at work I had to do. If it hadn't been for the mask I was wearing, it would have felt like any other class-free day in May.

And that felt good.

All this time on our hands, magnified by sleep that brings dreams tinged with real-world worry, gives us time to think and this, too, is a double-edged sword. Is it a good thing (coping mechanism) or a bad thing (inability to cope with the outside world) that I wasn't chafing at my restrictions? When it came time to re-enter whatever normal would become, would I embrace it (healthy) or want nothing more than to run back to the safety of my home (unhealthy)?

polettix via Pixabay
The truth is, we won't know how we feel until we get to where we're going and, right now, that destination is unknown. Some of us find that troubling, where others see an adventure and most of us probably straddle the two, jumping from one to the other, depending on the day -- or the time of day.

This morning proved to me that it's not COVID I'm afraid of -- it's an old, familiar enemy: the unknown. While I can't say that this disease doesn't worry me, my real worries -- the too familiar and a the unfamiliar -- have become intertwined and have been tightening around me.

Given all of that, maybe Scarlett's not so far off base. As long as today is sunny and manageable, there's no reason not to think about the rest of it tomorrow.

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