Checking In

What will be my Quarantine Story, what tales will I tell in five years, or 10 or 20? Will it be a story of victory or sadness, revelation or survival, entertainment or boredom, or even joy? Which stories will last, and which will be of the moment?

banjo house lockdown

One of my favorite ongoing concerts, Banjo House Lockdown, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

I don’t like not knowing what changes are ahead; I hate having so many unanswered questions that I’m unable to feel prepared. I want to make plans, whether it’s for tomorrow or five years. I know it’s futile, wanting to predict an unknowable future, wanting to gain back some control. I suppose it’s always been that way, it’s all just highlighted now in this larger vacuum of hard information. My mind jumps from yesterday to next week, settling uneasily into today. It’s like I’ve been put on a phone hold with a long wait. Nobody tells me what number caller I am. But at least the music is stunningly great, and I so appreciate all the performers, pros and friends, who put their songs out there for us.

“I read the news today, oh boy,” runs through my head. I read with breath held, hoping I won’t see what I do see. I take it in in doses I can handle, and when anxiety floods my system I move on and find something else to do, to flatten the emotional curve, hourly, daily. Breathe, breathe, breathe. I tune in less and less, as it’s the only way I can tamp down my agitation.

Ready to shop. Does this mask make my nose look big?

Ready to shop. Does this mask make my nose look big?

I’m privileged to be at home waiting this out, watching from the sidelines, for now. My coping skills rise and fall. Each week I find a new rhythm, figuring out how to go out safely, and how to stay in and stay sane. Alan goes out for groceries, which hopefully will last us several weeks, and I feel like I’m sending him out to a war zone. Who knows what will happen out there, whether or how it will affect and infect him, us, everyone. Then the stress of unpacking the bags when he returns. How to deal with each food, the packaging, the plastic bags, washing hands in between, re-wrapping of each item, what should be washed first, storing things away – wait, did I wash my hands before I touched that? Do I need to wash again before I store this? Don’t touch my face. Wash again. Rinse and repeat is a mantra. Can I maintain this level of scrutiny on something that used to be mundane?

The two of us are fine for now, but I worry about our extended family. This includes some working from home and some applying for unemployment. Some are retired, some have young children, or housemates, or live alone. Some have underlying health issues, the ones that get listed in the warnings. Some are “essential workers” (such a strange concept) and on the front lines, exposed daily. And some are isolated elders we can’t visit, who we can only hope will stay generally healthy for the duration, as even a minor doctor visit carries layers of risk. There’s worry and aggravation that go with all of it.

And then there’s all the other people who have it much worse.


I’m interested in how others manage to cope. I wonder how I should cope. I consider whether to create more routine and schedules or let routines go. Do I create do-lists or abandon the lists, make long term goals or forget about goals? I started with some ideas about how to use the time, but am easing off on the pressure to accomplish things, as the guilt and stress don’t help. Maybe later. Soon.

There are changes and shifts every day. My emotions volley and ricochet. I think I’m calmer, and then I’m not. I keep choosing different strategies. I wake up and my first thoughts are the usual – how do I feel, what’s the time, did I manage to get a good night’s sleep? Then simultaneously, instantaneously, the familiar foreboding creeps in. It rises and recedes, this mantle of dread.

Fabulous bag of books delivered by a friend!

Fabulous bag of books delivered by a friend!

At first I delighted in all the online exercise classes, meditations, lectures, and live music that popped up, but I’m backing off from some of it, as the attention to time tables and the busyness is not sustainable. I retired for a reason! I walk and meditate and garden and I already have a strong daily writing practice. I pick and choose between the wealth of online offerings. I couldn’t read books at first – so unusual for me, but I just couldn’t concentrate. A friend brought me a stack of books, so I’m adding reading into the mix.

I feel especially happy outdoors, loosening the disquiet, watching spring unfold with its unceasing optimism. Planting seeds feels hopeful, or just putting my hands in the dirt to pull a few weeds allows me to breathe deep. The promise of clean food is encouraging.

Lettuce is back on the menu boys!

Lettuce is back on the menu boys!

Always I write, trying to untangle it all and bring myself to a better understanding – if not of the world, then of myself. I write about these times, and also about anything but these times, shaping my words into something relatable or useful or entertaining. Or junk. I have a lot of that.

But it’s all right. It’s all right, it’s all right. 

We do what we need to do to get through this. There are no rewards for doing it well, and no one should be judged for how they cope. We’re all amateurs now. One person’s stress reliever is another person’s nightmare. There’s nothing like spending weeks at home alone to shine a light on all my anxieties, moods, wants and needs. My best may come out, and possibly my worst.

Small talk, so often meaningless and banal, is now weighted with meaning and connection. We swap tales from a distance now, but I really do want to hear about how you are, about your unique situation, how you’re bearing up, your new activities and discoveries, your interpretation of the latest information, and what’s happening in your town. How are you doing, how’s it going, how are you?

You can leave a comment below, and feel free to hit ‘follow’ at the top, to get my posts in your email. Thanks for reading!

12 thoughts on “Checking In

  1. Well that lightened my mood! My first reaction was ‘man she plans ahead’ thinking back already from the future??? Hmmm do we all do that? Well I cope by making long lists that I can mostly cross everything off. Today’s list included WASH HAIR
    Seriously I do put things on my list that are givens or that I have already done just so I can delete them.

    I have been sending snail mail to my grandsons and that has required a little creativity. I’ve started getting mail back too. I’m into letters and random cards. Send me your address and I’ll send you a surprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Nancy,
    Just a few minutes ago I was listening to Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck. Check this song out if you haven’t already. It is called Weary Blues From Waiting. It is really funny.

    I got a few good laughs from your post today. Thank you for your sense of humor, and generous spirit to share what is going on inside and outside of you. Wish I was there playing music with you and Alan.
    Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a beautiful piece. I’ve also been thinking about ”looking back” and what that will feel like. Thank you for capturing so many of my feelings so eloquently. XX00



    Liked by 1 person

  4. HI Nancy, This I have read several times since you posted a couple of week ago. Each time various lines jump out and resonate with me and my c19 experiences. It is a daily flow that seems to have nothing of a relaxed rhyme or rhythm. Maybe that is one lesson to me …change is a bracket of a new stanza except it feels otherwise as we are stationary for most the day in geography snd space and place. I must walk in Nature to preserve some level of grounded centeredness.

    I try different practices each week to see what might work and still no sure thing…all the prior moorings appear to drift at sea just out of reach…and then I return to feelings of hope in spite of it all …to some deep place with gossamer thread to cling to specks and sparks of light at the proverbial end tunnel still seems out of sight. Music helps, Nature helps, writing helps, snacking and napping help, missives and memories too. Faces of those near, dear and those gone but not forgotten…guardian angels all.

    Keep writing and posting your blog…a thread of tencil strength beyond measure. Grateful, MaryJo

    On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 4:55 PM Rivers and Roads PDX wrote:

    > riversandroadspdx posted: “What will be my Quarantine Story, what tales > will I tell in five years, or 10 or 20? Will it be a story of victory or > sadness, revelation or survival, entertainment or boredom, or even joy? > Which stories will last, and which will be of the moment? I do” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully said MaryJo, thank you. Trying new things seems to be a theme for me as well. This week I’m focusing more on meditation, and looking at Jon Kabat-Zinn’s daily video practice. It will be interesting to see who we are in the afterward, whatever that may be.
      Thanks for being such a faithful reader. xo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s