For better or for worse, things are starting to "open up." Here in Arizona, retail is starting to return. Restaurants and coffeeshops were fast-tracked to a Monday open, assuming that certain social distancing standards can be followed. I know that more will follow.
I still don't know that we can really say that we're getting back to normal. I'm in the camp that says things aren't ever going to look exactly like they did 2 months ago. Two months ago, I took the kids to the dentist and out for ice cream without giving it a second thought. I don't think things will ever be that carefree for me again.
Because even if everything opens up and everything goes back to "the way it was," I'm not the same. I've changed.
Here are 3 ways that I anticipate this has changed me for the long haul.
I'm a little cleaner.
I don't mean to say that things around here were bad; I was just never much of a germaphobe. We kept the bathroom and floors clean. I tidied regularly and kept up on the dishes and laundry. We weren't dirty people, exactly. Just not sanitized within in inch of our lives. But now? Now I'm a wipe everything down with Clorox wipes and disinfect the counters daily kind of girl. Even if I back off of the daily wipe (big if), I think it will still be done at least several times a week. The habit of washing my hands more has become so ingrained that the other day, I was concerned that I'd grown lax. No. Just accustomed to more frequent washings. 2 months does a habit create.
I have a food stash.
I've long been decent meal planner. I actually get pretty stressed out if it's lunchtime and I don't know what I'm making for dinner. Accordingly, I've found it easier on the budget to buy what I need and use what I buy. I've generally kept very little on hand for a rainy day -- really not much more than a couple of boxes of pasta, some mac & cheese, and backups when I notice staples are running low.
Not anymore. Because of concerns about potential (real) quarantine, illness, food shortages and the like, I've stashed lots of staples, frozen plenty of meat and veggies, and actually reorganized my overflow pantry to accommodate. And instead of eating through that stuff, I'm buying to replace. I'm buying backup staples when I open a new container instead of when I finish one. If I'm eating pasta this week, I buy a new box, even though there are several boxes in my pantry. Same with most everything.
I have a family to care for, and experience lots of anxiety when I imagine a rainy day without at least some basics.
Maybe in time the stash will shrink. Or maybe they'll clean out my house after I die and find 700 cans of beans and a lost package of chicken thighs from 2020.
A couple of weeks ago, Charles came home from a run to the store with a bottle of hand soap with a seasonal scent -- evergreen or the like. It was approaching Easter, and clearly some associate found a box in the back of a warehouse or something and knew that it would be purchased. Not even at clearance prices. ;-) It was a PRIZE! As I pumped the green goo onto my hands, I laughed at myself. It wasn't that long ago that I spent long minutes in the aisles, carefully considering whether lilac or peony or ocean water was the better scent for my buying dollars. Did I prefer orange or lemon disinfectant wipes?
I'm sure that I will feel giddy the day I when I can worry about those minor decisions, things that really, really don't matter. But I'm sure I'll also appreciate it.
I appreciate the feeling security when I see stocked shelves at the store.
I appreciate the beautiful, loving, enriching environment of my kids' school and teachers.
I appreciate slow(er) mornings and not making lunches.
I appreciate time with my family.
I appreciate my family's health.
I appreciate people.
I look forward to the time I can appreciate things like grabbing coffee with a friend, going to dinner, going to Mass, the Sacraments.
I appreciate a thousand little things that make life wonderful and hard and real.
I look at people who lived through major moments in history: the Depression, the World Wars, the societal shifts of the 60s and we see how they were changed by those experiences. This is, in so many ways, the defining moment of my generation. More than 9/11 or the 2008 recession, this is going to shape the way we live, age and parent, because it is touching so many fundamental parts of life for, well, everyone. I pray that, when I look back on this time, I'm all the better for having experienced it, and that I can say it changed me. For the better.