Just between you and me, I have to admit there were some parts of quarantine I am going to miss. Please don’t repeat this, because I know I’ll be scorned. I don’t mean I’ll miss stores being closed or schools facing every kind of challenge imaginable.
I don’t mean I’ll miss wearing yoga pants, sweats and floppy slippers, although that became quite comfy. I don’t mean pasta and pizza and popcorn to treat ourselves for not going out. I don’t even mean the binging on series we never would have discovered without all that time at home. I don’t mean the time to do a serious fall cleanup and spring clean up of the yard and gardens, but I was quite proud of that.
What I am going to miss is having the calendar free of events that always kept us hopping from meetings, to gatherings to socializing that involved either new assignments, new clothes, or late hours.
I am going to miss the quality time I had with myself and the “We’re not yet vaccinated” reason to avoid the crowds. What??? Did I just say I liked having an excuse to not go out? Gulp. Me? A “people person”? The one who loves impromptu parties, gala events, and family over for every occasion? I think we all have had changes happen to us over the past year, but for some of us it was weight gain, discovering our true hair color and learning to make bread. Not a total personality makeover. When someone who loved to walk with a group of friends decides sudoku is an exercise and someone who was a teetotaler declares wine is a fruit, that’s not just a slight shift, it’s plate tectonics gone awry.
I am somewhere in between all of that, but I do know I was loving the easy pace, the routines and the extra reading time. I remember years ago saying that, if I ever broke a leg, I would get to the bins of photos and organize them. Or, if there was a four-day snowstorm, I could definitely attack the closets and purge.
Months of quarantine and the photos aren’t organized. A year of at home time and the closets remain as they were in 2019. Crowded, dated, and of no concern. I didn’t even consult my lists. Can that be so wrong? The beauty of it is, after living this life for a while, some of us are choosing not to take back all of the “things” we were forced to put aside.
I used to do a card game in my classes where each person wrote down five titles they held; five roles they played in life. One by one they had to discard each and tell why they were willing to give it up. When their hands were empty, round two was picking up one card at a time and declaring why they wanted that back.
They were allowed to stop picking up cards at any time and declare themselves a winner when they thought their hand was complete enough. The bonus round was to write one or more “wild cards,” roles they never had, but would like to add, and place them happily in their hands. They got to “go out” when they were satisfied with what they had.
That’s the game that we all essentially played on our own this past year. It might have been a solitaire of sorts, and it sometimes seemed like crazy eights, but it was worth the deal and playing it out.
I am going to miss the extra effort people put in writing, calling, and emailing—to say nothing of the additional Facetiming with friends from distant places. When everyone gets back in stride, they are not going to sit in their living rooms on a Friday night sharing a glass of wine from afar. I am overjoyed to be with friends and family whom I missed desperately over the past year. But I am going to remember that “going back to normal” might be an entirely new normal. And that’s a good thing.
Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.