Helter Shelter

Like many of you, the last two months have been the most unexpected and unpredictable in my life.  And this is coming from a woman who has experienced a school shooting, stood by as her husband took a marital “vacation” and has seen a son through a couple of cancers.  So my propensity to constantly wait for the other shoe to drop has some merit in reality.  In addition, I inherently have a rather strong fight or flight instinct anyway.  Given that, I am drawn to the familiar.  The more predictable my experiences in life the better.  You will never catch me with a parachute on my back or ice clip hiking in the Alps.  Like my dad, I like the same routes, clear skies and caller ID.

So you give me Covid-19 with all of its unpredictability and confusion and mixed messages and unclear treatments and models of prevention that vary city to city, state to state, country to country, doctor to doctor and I am on tilt.  Like those fruits and numbers that reel by as you wait for a slot machine to land on three images, that’s my brain. While my head feels like someone turned my ninth-grade record player up from 33 rpm to 78, the outside of my body feels like that awful sound when someone rips the vinyl disc out from under the needle and cracks the record over their knee. Again, an allusion to said father if I was listening to music after midnight when he had to get up at 4:30 to provide an album or two and put food on the table.

No the outside of my crazed brain, looks nothing like the album cover I had two months ago. Needing a haircut and highlights (of course I am a natural blonde, I just “augment” it) before self-isolation began, I am three months into facing the real me.    Mousy, unkempt, dark blonde hair, a little paunchy from perhaps more than one glass of wine a night or the fact that most days I just go from my daytime pajamas to my nighttime pajamas. And the kiss of death for any model figure is a drawstring waistband.  To top it off, I have a stye in my right eye which I never get unless my husband has one, which he did, or if I am extremely stressed, which I am.

I swear I have aged ten years in the last couple months.  Either that or the fact that with no distractions beyond Outlander and The Last Dance, I have too much time to notice myself as I pass a mirror. And I refuse to resort to Tiger King to avoid that.

But as we head into month three, or perhaps two years, of uncertainty and masked living, I have a few good things that I have discovered while sheltering in place with my husband, the parking garage CEO.

First of all, as for living daily under the same roof, it has been an unexpected surprise. Before this all began, we had been on a lower dip of the proverbial roller coaster called marriage.  Forty five years is hard enough to navigate alone, much less side by side with a person of the opposite sex. When he stepped out of his role of running a company and stepped back into the shoes of helping me run a household,  because I am a princess and we had a housekeeper before, most days he is a pretty nice guy.  He grocery shops, cooks, helps clean and even feeds my birds. He has learned why I am at war with squirrels and chipmonks on our back patio who destroy those feeders. Has even accepted that I stay up watching “whatever” until after midnight and sleep in the morning to make up for it.

And I, having to listen to his constant Zoom meetings, which cannot be avoided since for some reason he feels he has to speak into a megaphone to be heard, have a better understanding of what he does everyday under more normal circumstances. The challenges, the frustrations, the conflicts. Especially in a world when the entire driving universe came to a screeching halt and garages have stood empty or half full at best for weeks.

We walk almost everyday. We don’t argue over stupid things like we used to.  I guess life seems a little more precious. Or precarious. But it’s been OK for us in general. For the most part.  On most days.

But if the Japanese Killer Hornets, which I just read about this morning, that are the size of small birds and bite the heads off of whole hives of bees and can kill humans with their thumbtack-sized stingers become the pestilence that follows, or accompanies, this pandemic I will most certainly be done with all this perspective.  I will need professional help.

Or begin to model their behavior.  One can only be so perfect for so long.