“You joking? It’s not Easter today?”

Hereford Girls MapGetting back online with my high school friends this morning, ‘Waltham‘ was a few minutes late. [I’m going to call them by the towns/villages where they live now — a loose attempt at preserving some anonymity] Anyway, back to Waltham. She jumps in with “sorry I’m late, I was just outside checking what bins people were putting out, since tomorrow’s Easter Monday”. We all jam the airwaves on top of each other with “what?”, “tomorrow’s not Easter Monday!”, “what you up to?”, “today’s not Easter yet”. Waltham is in disbelief. She’s shocked. “Crikey, I ate my Easter eggs already!”. Deary me, we’re all losing track of time.

And with that, we were in hysterics. Just like the time in the second Form (aka Grade 7 in the US) when Mr. Stamp told us not to panic on April Fool’s Day when Keighley fake fainted in Geography class.

From there we flitted back and forth trading the latest excitements from another week of lock down living. We shared advice on how to dry out a phone dropped into the toilet …. ewwww. Broadmayne assured us that nothing else had been dropped into said toilet before the phone fell in. Now keeping fingers crossed that several days of resting in rice grains will do the trick.

Wigston had finally cracked the secret of getting into the Waitrose queue for her grocery shopping curbside pickup and was very chuffed with her midnight stealth work online. Well done we cheered!

Broadmayne confessed to having been stopped by the police on her 2-mile car trip to the beach to walk the dog. When she explained where she was going the policeman replied with “no you’re not, you’re going back home”. Apparently it was all very nicely put and he did take the time to elaborate that he didn’t want her getting into a car accident and using up medical services. We were sorry for her, but at the same time we thought it all seemed very sensible.

Louth shared some surprisingly f***-laced exchanges her and her husband had with some fellow queuers at the local supermarket. The mother of three active children didn’t take kindly to the suggestion that her children were getting too close to them. Tempers are rising. What happened to British reserve?

Keighley is, unbeknownst to me, the gardening expert in our group, so much advice was dispensed regarding rose pruning and other important gardening tasks for this time of year. All beyond my grasp living in a completely different climate.

Waltham and Wigston shared conversations with friends and family in France and Italy describing forms that now have to be filled out every time you leave the house in Paris and Naples. Apparently the French and Italians are required to write down the time of their departure, the destination and purpose, and have that piece of paper on hand in case they are stopped by the police. Word has it that lots of fines are being given out. Gosh. That’s a warning to the rest of us who are still being asked to isolate voluntarily. 

We did some heavy sighing between outbursts of hilarity. Everyone was looking forward to the Queen’s televised message at 8pm.

Ta-ta for now. Let’s do this again in a couple of weeks. We’ll skip next Sunday since it really will be Easter Sunday – except maybe in Waltham!



It was like having unprotected sex

Mask - shockI heard that Whole Foods Market was opening an hour earlier for the over-60 crowd this week. Ok, I’ll admit to my age for this perk. On my early morning run today I thought I’d swing by and check it out. No big shopping trip, just a quick in and out, and maybe snag some fresh tomatoes, if they have some.

There was a security guard at the doors. I flashed my ID, though he waved me on with disinterest. Either they weren’t checking, or it was too obvious that I qualified. Not like the checkout clerk at Walgreens, who actually knows us, and still insists on seeing our ID for a bottle of wine — every single time. This of course launches my dear husband into a rant — also every single time, which I now have memorized. But I digress.

Back to the Whole Foods expedition, it was my first foray out into retail in almost a week. I had only seen pictures on the news, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I also wasn’t sure I should be here. Was I being reckless and cavalier?

There were lots of gaps in shelves which young stockers were working to refill before the 8am general opening. It wasn’t very crowded. I passed only one or two people down each aisle. Everyone looked similar to me: a just-got-out-of-bed look about them, nobody smartly dressed for the office, very focused on an efficient grab and go. There were few smiles or hellos.

As I headed to the checkout I saw where all the people were. Not enough checkers had shown up yet. Ugh. With a long line of heavy laden baskets snaked around the corner, I considered aborting mission. But hey, I’m in no rush, so I decided to wait it out. Observing my peer group more closely in line now, I realized that they may resemble me in many ways, but there was one notable difference: most of them had on protective gloves and many were wearing face masks too. Geez, what was I thinking? I had disinfectant wipes with me, but not all this hazmat equipment. Eeek! I suddenly felt naked, exposed.

What am I doing here? Decide again to stay, or bolt now? It suddenly seemed like wildly risky behavior — like having unprotected sex with a stranger. What new reality am I living in? Now I have to remember to bring  masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes and handsanitizer, as well as my own bags?!

I’m going back into my cave.


The Death of FOMO

FOMO_SeriesTitleI was worried I was going to miss out on the Norman Rockwell exhibit in town – I couldn’t seem to fit it in before it leaves next week. Worry no more, the museum shut their doors a few days ago. Basically, any event on our calendar and all possible events in the foreseeable future are wiped off the board.

Stories of gatherings, parties, reunions, and other fun happenings in social media have disappeared. They are being replaced with everything from helpful creative ideas for managing isolation to anguished posts of fear and dread. The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) promoting platforms have lost this particular power over us.

ALL of us are For Sure Missing Out — or rather none of us are missing out, because there’s nothing to miss out on?

FOMO induced by stylized cutsie pics of perfect, happy lives seems trivial against a backdrop of plummeting stocks, closing borders, closing businesses, closing schools, and increasing virus counts. We see overwhelmed medical facilities in other countries on TV and absorb the rising tide of fear as we contemplate whether we are next. The new reality of isolation and social distancing slices across our society with no regard for class, looks, popularity, connectedness, or wealth. We are all in this stew together. Was FOMO ever a real thing?

I can see some early shifts in the ways we relate to each other – echos of post-hurricane disaster care and generosity. I’m wondering how this will evolve as time passes and what will stick when it’s all over?

Watch this space.