I realize the posts I’m writing are written from a privileged perspective. While I’m not living extravagantly, I do have income and am able to shelter in place in a beautiful location, for which I’m utterly grateful. Stories trickle into my world describing the desperation and frustration of people whose applications for Unemployment Compensation and PPP loans (Paycheck Protection Program) are held hostage by overwhelmed and poorly designed websites. How to pay the rent or mortgage and utilities? How to work and simultaneously homeschool children? Pervasive problems plaguing families.
I have a drop dead fear my observations shared from my privileged perch will be considered frivolous in light of our paralyzed economy. I guess my point of view represent one version of the dual realities experienced during the age of COVID-19.
I wrote this post on Easter Eve 2020. Last Easter and several others before it, my family gathered at my step-sister’s home situated on beautiful Lake Butler not far from the Disney area. Typically we share food and conversations, catching up on extended family activities since previous reunions. Gathering on holidays is a ritual observed by many throughout the world. This year there were virtual Seders on the first and or second nights of Passover. I watched our church’s Easter service in my PJs as it streamed through my Apple TV. I hosted a Zoom Easter gathering with my kids and their families. That rarely happens. I can’t remember the last time my daughter shared the same space with my son and grandchildren, face-to-face or virtual. It was lovely.
This new way of functioning makes me wonder if we will become less tolerant of schedules and obligations.
Yes, yes I know schedules scotch tape our world together. I, and most others, are schedule-a-holics. As Peter Beagle says, “We say 1:00 as though we can see it and Monday as though we can find it on a map…Like everyone else, we live in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days.”
We are indeed a time bound society. Movies begin at a precise time. Airline departures require at least a half-a-day’s commitment, and penalties are imposed if punctuality is not observed within the school system.
At the onset of our self-imposed quarantine I was looking ahead at a schedule teeming with work, social, and travel appointments. Covid-19 demanded I cancel a trip to Chicago and another one to Spain; our Jeremiah Project’s afterschool creative arts programming quickly fell prey to precaution. (That one hurt the most since children in underserved communities have no where to turn when parents are forced to leave home for work.) It looked as though I had used invisible ink when I entered fundraisers and social engagements on my calendar. With great anticipation I had looked forward to these occasions.
A funny thing is happening, however, only a month into our self-exile. While I’m enjoying Zoom meetings, Zoom Happy Hours, and Zoom writing sessions, my stomach clenches as I ready myself for the appointed hour. This from someone who has a margin of error in her head about arrival times (they should be + or – five minutes before or after the prescribed time.) I’m afraid I’m becoming intolerant of schedules.
I can’t go to Mount Dora to visit Aunt Mary and her grandchildren? Oh well, perhaps sometime soon. I can’t go to my non-profit office for work? Oh well. I can’t pay $25.00 to see a movie? Oh well, I can rent it at home for $5.99 and stop and start it whenever I like. I can’t leave my house two hours early to stand in a mile long TSA line, be strip searched, and have my water bottle confiscated in order to fly to Chicago? Oh well, I’ll FaceTime them and send Easter presents.
I clearly understand I’m offering a limited perspective. Most people in the world will adhere to tight schedules as school and work outside the home resumes. But I do wonder if more meetings will be held on line and more work and learning conducted from home.
The final line in the Peter Beagle quote cited above says, “And I never went outside until I died because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through walls.” Maybe on a positive note this virus is insisting we create new doors or walk through a few walls (even if it is only a doggy door.)