It's just like any other Monday. Except for just about everything.
I’ve been waking up a little later. My commute, which used to be 15 blocks, is now 15 feet. It used to take me 20 minutes to get to work. Now the streets are so empty I could get there in 10, and with a sidewalk all to myself. That is, if I were going to the office. Which I am not.
I have to remind myself to go outside. I am both dog and owner, taking myself for short walks and keeping myself on a short leash lest I wander within six feet of a stray human.
But mostly I am inside. I am working a lot. It's a busy time for the grocery business, you know. I am keeping shelves clean and stocked. The work feels useful. I worked from home yesterday, which I think was Sunday, and I will work from home today as well, which is very likely a Monday but it’s hard to be sure.
Two ways in which I am truly fortunate: To be working. To be home.
A third: To be doing something useful.
A fourth: To be healthy, so far.
Oh let's swing by the fridge, why not. I know every jar of condiments on the shelf by name. Hello, everyone. I know every whittled wedge of cheese from where I stopped my desperate carvings yesterday. Everything goes into the scrambled eggs. No morsel left behind.
Down the hallway, I am flush with toilet paper. Yes, neighbor, I can spare a square.
Back to my cozy office/closet. A videoconference is starting, and my, aren’t we are all getting good at it! Let me be clear: I was good already. It is everyone else who is catching up. Now we are all finally turning on our cameras, coming out of the shadows, masters of our mute buttons. And, we know exactly where to drag the windows so we can make unbroken eye contact while checking Twitter to find out what else happened now for God's sake.
My hands are dried out from compulsive washing. Twenty seconds under warm water, a spa day from the wrists down. I have cracks on my pinky knuckles, which are a part of my body I never realized I had. I am not the sort of man who keeps superfluous creams in my life, but I am now the sort of man who keeps a tube of CeraVe on his desk.
Last night I watched Outbreak for the first time. It was trending on Netflix, number nine. Space Jam was number eight.
What a weird week.
Last week, everything turned on its head.
If we were lucky, it was mostly in very small ways. Old routines died. Wake up, when? Go to work, where? Shop for what, and how much, and where do they have any left? We learned about “social distancing” for the first time, and maybe we followed it, or maybe we shared funny memes about it. We washed our hands, picked our filthy phones right back up, and took ourselves seriously while doing it. Oh, and we also leaped forward a day and sprung forward an hour, because why not also mess with the very fabric of spacetime while we are at it.
A million little novelties and inconveniences. A pain in the ass. But also an excuse to see everything with fresh eyes and do things a little differently. A chance to cook a little more, to walk my dog more often, to learn the luxury of silky smooth hands.
I know that Rome is burning out there, but by the time the ash falls outside my window, it looks oddly like a snow day.
This week, the new routine. A million little novelties and inconveniences will become ordinary.
This week, the new routine. Good things and bad things will just be things.
This week, the new routine. Whichever way the scales were tipping last week, someone pushed the tare button, and we are starting back at zero.
This week, the new routine, but I don’t want it to be. Not yet. Let’s enjoy this snow day as long as we can, because it could be the first day of a long winter.
And now: as I went to post this article, they just closed the restaurants, the bars, the movie theaters. We are living in exponential times.
Sienna, on the eve of her sixth birthday, thinking about the year ahead.