One of the casualties of this pandemic year has been our sense of time. Yesterday can feel like a month ago, and last year can feel like a week. Things have merged together. The signposts of our lives are smudged. It’s been forever, or it’s been one moment that just doesn’t end.
At first, we steeled ourselves for a few weeks or even months of inconvenience. And then . . .. and then . . . it was several months. Now a year, and who knows how much longer. And perhaps even the grim prospect of never getting back to what we used to call “normal.”
For me, living here in Carleton-Willard Village, the privation hasn’t been too terrible. Our dinners are delivered every evening by cheerful staff. They bring our choices: Did we want the chicken quesadilla, the roast beef, or the pork tenderloin Marbella? Here it is right at our door. Our driveways are plowed. Our houses are cleaned.
And anything else we desire arrives as if by magic. If you hanker after socks with separate toes, or ring lights for your computer monitor, ergonomic cushions for that chair you are sitting in all day, here they come. Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, Instacart all beat a path to our doors. Even wine and alcohol are merely a call away. And most of us have enhanced our computer skills in ways we would never have thought possible. Zooming is our lifeline.
Of course, we are lucky and privileged. This time has been far harsher for so many, and the losses loom before us. How many gone? How many in dire economic straits? How many still suffer the effects of illness? The children missing out on experiences crucial for them? The parents overburdened in every way? Still, despite our relative comfort, the isolation wears on us. If we venture outdoors, we encounter our neighbors so muffled behind masks and hats that we barely know who they are. Most of us haven’t hugged our families in a year. Some of us haven’t even seen them. These privations, too, are real and painful. What can compensate?
I do think that many of us have learned something about how to focus on what we do have and what can bring us a feeling of being connected to the world. So, the naturalists among us have delighted in identifying birds and tracks in the snow. We’ve noticed things we might not have noticed before. I have been intent on hailing new leaves on my cactus plants, a slow but somehow cheering occupation. My daughter-in-law has been painting mandalas on rocks; my daughter has attached apps to her phone to learn the names of plants and birds; I’ve begun painting in a way more serious than ever before, turning out a new canvas every week till I’ve run out of wall space.
So, we while away the time, filled and empty at once.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Roemer has been a resident of Carleton- Willard Village since 2019