Lockdown: Lightened by the blinds

Despite loosening restrictions on Oahu, I’m keeping myself away from friends and strangers for two reasons, which I am grateful to say are common among many of my friends and acquaintances: I don’t want to contribute to the spread and if my parents need me, I want to be available without putting them at greater than necessary risk.

Since the start of the lockdown March 19, I’ve seen my parents three times: mothers day, fathers day, and my mom’s birthday. All three times I stayed downstairs, wearing a mask, while they stayed upstairs. We called to each other. The dog came down to say hi.

I saw Penny once. She came out to my car and took half a pie out of the back seat of my car, reaching through the window.

I saw Sylvia once. I handed her some yeast. She gave me some kale. We met in a parking lot, handing the goods to each other through our driver-side windows.

I saw Crush Girl once. We met in a parking structure so I could give her an empty one-gallon water jug. I set it down on the floor between our cars, then stepped away so she could pick it up. We spoke to each other from across our vehicles, for like three minutes.

I saw coworkers John, Alice, Patty, and Aileen in the office. John and Alice were on a Saturday afternoon. I thought I’d be the only one in, but boy was I wrong. That was a stressful couple of hours. We all worked in very distant areas of the office, with walls and doors to separate us, but it was also very early in the lockdown and I did not like being in that space one bit while others were in it too. I saw Aileen about a month ago, when I went in early on a Saturday morning rather than my usual Sunday. That was also stressful. She works in the office on a regular schedule, so she’s used to it. I vowed to avoid Saturday in the office. I saw Patty a couple of weekends ago. She needed to get in for a while and I had my usual Sunday stuff to do, so we were in there together for a few hours, in separate areas separated by walls and doors. Sliiiiightly less stressful because she’s one of my best friends in the office, but still stressful!

So it’s nine encounters with people I know in nine months of the pandemic, or something. I’m not going back up to count them. That sounds like a lot to me, considering how utterly isolated I mostly feel, but I guess one run-in with a friend or family member per month is kind of spare.

My dad emailed me a few days ago to ask for some help hanging new vertical blinds. The blinds in my parents’ house are as old as the house. That’s 35 years. I admit I was a little nervous, but I reminded myself that I keep myself safe and healthy so I can be there if they need me. I don’t consider vertical blinds very important or pressing, but I also have a job that keeps me busy five days a week. My parents are locked away with each other for company and no schedule. If they’re keeping themselves busy with house projects, I’m all for it. I’ve even ordered things from Amazon for my dad and had them delivered there so he could work on some of them.

So Saturday morning I drove over. I picked up a dozen manapuas in two boxes (one for me and one for them) on the way. We got started at about 9:30 on a project my dad predicted would take “a couple of hours.”

We killed that thing. The living room looks fricking great. These blinds are lighter and brighter, so even when they’re closed they make the living room brighter than it was. And it took pretty close to a couple of hours. We took a break midway through, during which I chatted with my mom a bit. My dad and I chatted while we worked, of course. I wore a mask. I tried to keep my distance, but you could tell my parents just weren’t worried about catching something from me. I kept edging away when they got close, but they seemed oblivious and often stepped closer. They were happy to see me.

I was happy to see them too. Seriously, this lockdown has been surprisingly rough in this respect. But dang it, I did not need them to be breathing my germs.

I was out by half past noon. Came home, took a nap, did the crossword, read the news, watched the news. Thought about NaNoWriMo. Vegged.

Strangely, I skipped breakfast (tried to get another 20 minutes of sleep before heading to the folks’ house) and had a couple of manapuas for lunch. Then one more for dinner. I had some chips in between. That was all I ate.

I texted Penny to work out dropping off her birthday gift. Then Jennifer to respond to a bunch of stuff she sent me that I was lazy to check out. But it was all interesting and I saved a couple of ideas for kitchen experiments. Ali and I texted quite a bit about the American Dirt controversy. She’s reading it now. She and someone at work recommended it to me, and I’ve been aware of it for a while because of all the librarians I know and the writers I follow in social media.

I’ve found a groove with cozies, though, so I think I’m going to stay here for a while. Reading as medication.

It’s the last day of October, ‘though you’d never be able to tell just looking up and down my street. This means NaNoWriMo is Sunday. My daily lockdown journals might necessarily be shorter for a few weeks.

But I can still DM and text. So if you want to connect some, please leave a comment. I’ll send you contact info and we can help each other get through these lousy autumn pandemic days.

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