Fully retired, Mike and I made plans for an extensive trip to the Western Europe and Baltic states. A road trip up the California coast was on the agenda later in the year. We continued to be busy with family and friends, meeting for coffee, drinks and meals, attending church (well, maybe not so much), enjoying concerts and plays, flying to Chicago to join our kids, new granddaughter, and friends there. Our grandsons had reached an age of increased independence, relieving us of many of our duties in Arizona.
A meniscus torn while performing a rainbow lunge exacerbated the arthritis already developing in my knee, requiring a partial replacement. Will I be able to go on the cruise? I asked the doctor. Not exactly warm and fuzzy but realistic, he gave a skeptical nod. We proceeded to plan with a casual eye on this virus rumored to come out of China.
The reality hit as we drove home from Mexico in March: borders were being closed. The world was experiencing a pandemic. We girded our loins, pored over news reports, and adapted our traditions, all while planning to resume normal living by Christmas 2020.
Now what? The nearly two years of pandemic have provided everyone with time to evaluate and re-evalutate their lives. With no need to dress up, or even dress, clothing choices were simplified. Technology moved up to the needs list pushing jewelry and makeup to lower section of wants. Cooking at home became the norm. We ordered in to support local businesses, some of which did very well, especially during the early days when states allowed them to sell alcohol on takeout.
Back to my original question. What would I do if it weren’t for Covid? My surgery has healed as much as it will, leaving me with arthritis in both knees. I can do most of what I want, except mount and dismount a bike and climb stairs hands free.
We have shelved plans for extensive travel and no travel abroad which I miss sorely. Our experiences on a cross-country trip during the height of Covid left us with mixed feelings: many sites are closed, health mandates vary from town to town, and hotel and restaurant prices have climbed, understandably. It’s more comfortable to stay home.
Knowing many people with break-through infections, we are no longer enthused about going out to restaurants and concerts. We entertain a small group of friends at home, continuing to order in to support local businesses.
Truly, the world is opening up thanks to the vaccine. We feel relatively safe because of our fairly good health and boosters. But a sense of caution permeates our adventures. At one time, we would have struck up a conversation with the people at the next table; now we do so now separated by distance and masks.
Back to my original question. What would I do if it weren’t for Covid? Travel, for sure. But I have no interest in shopping, actually never did. I can wear the clothes that I have had for several years, as long as they are clean. It is easier to avoid earrings rather than risk their popping off along with my hearing aids when I remove my mask. A little makeup to ease my companion’s shock at my age-lined face satisfies my vanity. Dinner with friends in the silence of home is preferable to the cacophony of a commercial venue in which we pretend to hear each other while shouting our vocal cords raw.
I retired and tore my meniscus while Covid was permeating our society. Meanwhile, I have aged. What will I do if/when Covid is controlled? I read, I write, occasionally I make music. What will normal be for me as an individual, for society as a whole? Perhaps I am already living it.