Friday, March 5, 2021

One Year Into This Pandemic From The Eyes of an Introvert

March 6, 2020 was when our school district closed after a confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in our county. It was a parent of a district student and, out of an abundance of caution, the district decided to close all the schools and do remote learning to control the spread of the virus. They never re-opened until the school year ended and we had no idea that March 5, 2020 would be my son's last day to ever set foot in his middle school building. When this current school year opened, we opted to go fully online, and my son has been learning (mostly) independently, asynchronously. He is given the materials to learn and he does what needs to be done. No daily lecture sessions with teachers, no interactions with 'classmates'. 

It has been a long year of being in our cave. We've not traveled anywhere; haven't seen family (since everyone's either in another state or country); haven't hung out with friends without donning masks and standing more than 6 feet away outdoors; haven't really stepped outside much without feeling like the air is out to kill us.  

The anxious side of me is obviously the one suffering during this pandemic. Though in our day to day, there isn't much stress to complain about, it's really when we need to venture out for one reason or the other when stress overtakes. On those rare times, it always feels like such a huge production number, with strict logistics in mind that will probably simultaneously put Dr. Fauci to shame, and make him proud. I make sure everyone is equipped with a mask. We never go to a store when we know it's crowded. We do to-go meals occasionally, but only from restaurants that offer drive-through or curbside pick-up. We've been opting for grocery pick-up but on those times we needed to step inside the store, I've timed our shopping trips to 15 minutes or less, but 30 when it's Costcomy husband holds a shopping list different from mine, items strategically listed in the order they're laid out in the store, we split up and meet again at checkout. I make sure I'm dehydrated enough so I don't have to use any restrooms. As soon as we're back in the car, I squirt sanitizer on everyone's hands and make sure we rub until our hands have dried up. When we get home, I sound like a drill sergeant reminding my boys to wash their hands for no less than 20 seconds. It's a lot for most people (even for my husband sometimes), but one has to do what one has to do to keep safe...AND sane!

It's the complete opposite in disposition and perspective when it comes to my introverted side. As far as that one goes, it's living its best life during this pandemic, experiencing greater serenity than ever as long as my family is safe inside our home...

With my son attending school online, I've not had to deal with the paranoia of him picking up an illness from outside. In years past, the most innocent sniffles could catapult me to the precipice of insanity. But since we've all been home for a year, no one has caught a bug and we have managed to stay relatively healthy. (*knock on wood*)

Because of recommendations to not gather with anyone who's not a member of your household, I've been set free from hosting any parties and have not felt any pressure to keep the house sparkling clean in case we get unexpected visitors. Such things are not recommended anymore and I'm not complaining. I also told my husband that in a way, it's great that we're far from where most of his side of the family resides because there is no pressure or discussion necessary as to whether or not to attend a family gathering. If we lived close to family, there'd be discussions about which parties to attend and which to skip. If it were totally up to me, I would insist on skipping everything for safety reasons, unless of course I knew that everyone in attendance had strictly quarantined for two weeks prior to the event. I would be impossible to appease, and they would hate me. It's best we're in a different state. No arguments, more peace. 

For school holidays or extended weekends, gone are the days of trying to figure out and plan where our family should vacation. Vacation now is far cheaper, more convenient, not hectic, and definitely sanitized to the level I require: We gather in our tv room, stream a movie or binge watch a series, make our own popcorn, and then retreat to our own cozy beds after. My introverted, germaphobe self can't think of anything more heavenly. 

Inarguably, there's plenty to hate about this pandemic. I hate the social injustices and inequities that it exacerbated. I hate that I can't book a flight to the Philippines to visit my aging and vulnerable parents, my family; I hate the divisiveness it has highlighted in our population, with still a significant portion refusing to believe in its reality, insisting it's the flu, refusing masks and the science behind such mitigation measures. It drives me into a state of poisonous inner rage when I feel gaslighted as I see people still gather in large groups to party, dine in crowded restaurants and bars, as if there was no pandemic. Yes, there's also all that angry, frustrated side.

But in focusing on the 'world' I have control overnot taking for granted that my perceptions are framed in privilegemy introverted self honestly feels relieved, unburdened, and validated. For the first time, it's acceptable and even recommended to stay away, not be social, shun close contact. It's recommended to keep our bubbles small, be selective with who to spend time with. We're told to keep outside interactions brief. We're supposed to keep much of our faces covered that we're all practically anonymous in public. Virtual interactions are preferred. Staying home is the ideal. Except for the presence of the virus, this is utopia for me. 

I still remember a meme from the early days of the pandemic: 

It's really only funny when it's true. And I promise you, this meme always makes me laugh.