Everyone measures time in a different way. Some from holiday to holiday, others by birthdays, others by the school year. Some of us use calendars to mark significant dates. The 4th of July has us bemoaning the halfway mark of summer vacation. Labor Day kicked off a new freshly anticipated school year.
Those dates don’t seem to have the same impact these days. Birthdays have come and gone without parties. In fact, our measuring of time is a jumble of new markers. When people say that these days are all running together, or that weekends don’t bring the same anticipation as they once did, we know that something is amiss.
We noticed Easter, but not by the wonderful church services, the family gatherings and ham dinners, but by mailing out some cards, video chats and colored eggs with no one to hide them for.
We passed graduations with drive-by diplomas and delayed pomp and circumstance. Gifts were mailed, congratulations over the phone and no parties, unless they were Covid parties.
Summer weddings were taken off the calendar and moved to a future date; some were held with eight people and an officiate. Wedding and baby showers became present drop-offs and the pandemic rages on filling the calendar with a sameness. Thirty, 60, 90 days, showing no signs of abating, leaving no room for long distance travel, grandchildren visits, or an anniversary bash marking a major passage of time.
We planted tomatoes during the pandemic, we are harvesting them with the same virus looming over us. We have purchased 32-ounce cartons of creamer and they have been replenished far too many times in the bi-weekly pickup of groceries.
My real awakening came when we bought a new pack of brown coffee filters, in a pack of 80. When I opened it, I smiled knowing this whole isolation and quarantine business would all be over by the time we had to buy more. I am well into my second pack, 132 days into social distancing and self-isolation, and a tiresome protocol that seemed easy enough in the beginning.
We were told to mask, avoid large gatherings, stay at least six feet away from others it sounded reasonable and certainly doable. We would be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in three to four weeks. How hard was that? When businesses and offices had to close, even that was manageable for a brief few weeks. Certainly, we could close schools and businesses and get this under control in no time. We could do that for our country and fellow citizens.
After all, think of all the sacrifices that were made during World War II in Europe. Rationing food, blackening windows, losing your husband and first born. That was a far greater sacrifice than a few weeks of inconvenience. But we are made of different stuff here in the good old USA.
Here we are, four months later, no end in sight, and no indication that we are interested in curbing the death rate, the illness hitting young and old alike, or the activity level. Once bars, restaurants and hairdressers opened, our calendars were once again filled with the necessary appointments that kept us booked and happy.
What does that say about a society? One friend told me her 90 days of pills need refilling and she still doesn’t want to go into the store to pick them up, another friend roams freely in and out of the store. One woman says it has been four months since her last haircut, but her sister has continued her regular appointments “under the radar, ha-ha.”
Measuring our time, flying by, noting the landmarks of haircuts and pills, each of us is accounting for our time and our actions.
For as long as there continues to be political controversy about a medically contagious disease we will see no travel, and we won’t be visited by family and friends who want nothing to do with Wisconsin or the United States. I better buy more coffee filters.
Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at email@example.com.
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