I’ve never written in a journal, despite offering the idea to many patients. Today I write because writing permits expression in the absence of nearness. At this moment, we mustn’t be close to others no matter what we want.
Yet we are the same creatures evolved to be social, to touch and more than touch: to shake hands, hug, embrace, caress, kiss, fondle, and lose ourselves in love and friendship.
We suffer from a pandemic side-effect called Skin Hunger by some, a too familiar, but unspoken condition among us, soon to be known by almost everyone. We have become experimental subjects in an unplanned scientific inquiry.
Still, today offered some small compensation. Here is a morning snapshot without mourning.
I wanted fresh orange juice. I’m lucky in many ways, including a meer 10-minute drive to a store that almost gives it away and a car to get there.
To minimize risk, I arrived early. Really early for those of you who aren’t seniors: at the high-risk age of our world’s coronavirus stage.
I entered at nine-minutes before dawn, a trip on night’s black edge: 6:20 AM.
Few people beat me in. The magic of automatic doors saved me from contact. Then a young woman employee walked by.
“Excuse me. Where are hamburger buns?“
“If we have them, they’re in aisle four.“
I guess “if we have them” has turned into a reflexive response. Shortages because of the terror. I went to get the juice, whose location I knew, then to aisle four. Tons of buns.
One of the automated checkouts was in use, three empty. I completed the errand while maintaining social distance. Mission accomplished! We take our triumphs where we can find them within the constraints of our present moment.
Breakfast. I had a drink of water, then prepared my typical fiber-filled repast: shredded wheat manufactured without sugar, salt, and taste. With bananas today, though I often add blueberries if the price is reasonable.
Then coffee to feel alive. Most seniors require gallons, plus medications. I don’t take many of the latter, but the standard is relative. Friends report back problems and hernias from lifting all the pharmaceuticals they use!
Now for the major event of the day. Ta-da! Walking outside. Almost three miles.
People are friendlier but maintain distance. Almost everyone now waves or says hello, even from across the street.
An outlier on a bike, a woman, widened the footage between us from 15 to 25 feet.
Some folks walked dogs. Physical contact with a loving mammal. Think about it.
I passed modest homes and a few places an old friend compared to the Palace of Versailles. He was exaggerating, of course.
I got to thinking about how COVID-19 might alter our values. We take much for granted: life, health, work, restaurants, etc.
Perhaps, for a while, the condition of our being will be differently admired, differently evaluated, differently appreciated.
The status of simple things is getting a boost, decency among them.
The birds were out and a concert in progress. A legendary symphony conductor, Carlo Maria Giulini, told me he thought this the most beautiful music of all. No disagreement from me. Even the woodpecker with his built-in jackhammer joined the sing-along.
Some folks I know are stunned at the avalanche of bad news. The ones in feathered flight don’t care. Birds chirp, chatter, and sing in their first show of the day. We hear mostly males at that time, hoping to win a female heart and trying to mark their territory.
The scale of their satisfaction is smaller than ours.
Perhaps they offer something worth learning.