During our coronavirus self-quarantine, I felt safe at home. My definition of safety expanded—it meant being home, staying home, away from anyone else who might expose me to the virus. After the quarantine ended, I faced how my safety was threatened because now I could go out into the world. I had to face the unsafe world! My safety net of seclusion evaporated.
Lin and I had completely controlled who entered our home during this time. We only allowed the furnace repairman to come in for a short duration. Our furnace went out, and he needed to check the thermostat. No one else. We relished the safety we felt in our home—barricaded in the east mountains among the trees, away from people and the dangers they possibly held for us.
Then on April 8, I finally could relax after our month-long self-quarantine, but that meant I could go out in the world—what would that bring? With a poetic view, I celebrated my liberation.
Today I Breathed—It is a Month! April 8, 2020 Hallelujah! We made it! Thirty-one days away From Madrid The airport Now I remember many workers with mask on Did they know? A bustling restaurant downtown Jovial waiters served our meal From Toledo Crowded busy streets Shoulder-to-shoulder Naïve about the possibility Lunch in a crowded café Again, our meal served We flew out on March 8th The coronavirus exploded there the 9th. I feared the worst, but it didn’t happen! Thirty-one days passed With Self-conscious Staring How do I feel now? How about now? NOW! Repeatedly A cough, A sore throat Diarrhea Oh, no! Am I sick? Is it the virus? Is it psychosomatic? Two weeks Of self-quarantine I didn’t want To take a chance To infect you To spread it If I had it. Third week Our self-quarantine over I ventured out Cautious Fearful! Today I breathed deeply For the first time In a month. Exhale! Inhale! Exhale! Rhythm Relief! Habitually I shallow breathe As it is! But this last month I deeply held my breath Worried, Afraid Apprehensive We were in a hot spot! Today I believe strongly I’m okay We dodged a bullet! Today my husband kissed me Hugged me For the first time! I ached For his touch His lips! Thirty-one days behind us Safe so far But still vigilant!
But then, I had to face the unknown in this new world the coronavirus created. In New Mexico, shelter-in-place became the standard, therefore I didn’t even think about frivolous shopping—just the necessities of food and medicine. But that meant being around people and the possibility of being exposed.
Somehow, we had dodged a bullet coming home from Madrid, Spain where the virus exploded the day after we left. Would I be so lucky in the grocery store? On my first excursion out, I went to Albuquerque and picked up a prescription at Walgreen’s and felt safe. But my next stop was Smith’s grocery store, and it shocked me. At Walgreen’s people respected social distancing and kept their distance. I hit the grocery store late afternoon, and the frantic crowd stormed the place, wanting toilet paper and other survival supplies. The scene overwhelmed me, and I got out quickly.
I describe my next grocery store experience below through poetry:
My Newfound Fear of the World April 13, 2020 As I walked into The grocery store Panic gripped my throat My stomach clinched! Would I pass someone Unknown And get the dreaded Coronavirus? I eyed each person Many donned masks And gloves It was Senior time Early Before the rush So conscientious a group! But still I worried! This deep fear upset me! Where’s my faith? My trust in my God? It almost felt like A panic attack! Not full blown But close! The safety of our home Comforts me! A fortress Against this Invisible enemy! No fear No dread Safety in our diligence! But today The world is scary Unsafe Dangerous! The enemy lurks In a cough A sneeze Getting to close To someone else! My safety My first priority My health Top of the list! My happiness I must respect! Therefore I don’t want to shop To be near you Stay away, please! Never in my life Have I wanted that Felt that way! I love hugs People Touch But the world changed in 2020 Stay away, please!
As I write this blog post, I surveyed the changes in the last couple months. On Friday morning, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store in Edgewood, New Mexico, a small community closer than Albuquerque. I don my mask and gloves and usually finish before 8:00 am. This has become a weekly ritual which will probably continue.
What rituals have you started because of the coronavirus? How has it changed your normal life?
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