Are You Different Now, Too?

As we move steadily forward to the moment when we sit in our car or sit on a chair and a masked person jabs a needle into our arms, step one on the road to the “return to normalcy,”I wonder, “Are you the same person you were in January 2020?” because I am not.

I’m pondering the ethics of signing up at two or more places for the vaccine so I can be sure to get it. Others do this; I haven’t. Why not? I was a little surprised to discover that I just don’t want it that badly. That led me into a chute of questions, notably, “Why not?” I’m not an anti-vaxxer or anything like that. I know I won’t get the “mark of the beast” from it (as some very far out there people actually believe). So what’s up?

My friends are eager to return to social interaction. I love my friends — truly — but? Am I THAT anti-social that I’d rather live with a deadly virus floating around than have house guests? Not hardly…but

I remember little Martha Ann who, after a day at school just wanted to go into her room and close the door. I remember an older version of that same girl who, on weekends, when the grading load was not burdensome, reveled in the thought on Friday night, “I get to do whatever I want.” The struggle to find solitude — productive solitude — has been a lifelong quest and these months with their restrictions actually seem to have given me PERMISSION to stay in my room. Finally.

Not like I haven’t gone out AT ALL. I have and it’s been great each time, but it’s different.

I’ve learned that:

1) Much as I love the kids, I don’t want to be their grandmother or anything like it. I don’t want the responsibility. I just want to talk to them when I come back from a walk with Bear.

2) I really like to paint and while some painters of the past have been pretty social about it, I don’t know how a studio artist like me is going to be that kind of artist. I have loved knowing that there won’t be any demands on me AT ALL while I’m painting. (I KNOW this is tied to my mom’s rather aggressive distaste for her kids going off by themselves and making art. She hated it and made sure it was never easy for my brother or for me. Childhood never ends completely in some of our life’s dimensions.)

3) I’ve always preferred communicating by writing to communicating by talking. The Pandemic has been great for that.

There’s more, but I’ll leave it here. So is it really about the vaccine or is it about not wanting to revert to the person I was before? In a way, it’s as if the world has had to follow the rules by which an introvert lives by nature.

But then, like everyone, I’m tired of this. Part of me just thinks, “If this is life now, OK, let’s just say so and get on with it.” The election was exhausting. The events after even worse. Maybe I’m experiencing the resignation that follows disillusionment, I don’t know.

So, I know about me but I sincerely want to hear about others. Have you seen changes in yourself or your life through this whole thing that you want to maintain?

43 thoughts on “Are You Different Now, Too?

  1. Boy, Martha, does this resonate. I retired February 2020. Two weeks later, there were all kinds of rumblings of Covid. My husband and I had talked and decided that for my first year of retirement, we would stay local, work on the house a bit (minor cosmetic things we had put off), but no ‘big’ travelling. Be careful what you wish for. I am so happy I retired when I did. A month later, one-third of the company I worked for was let go. Everyone was working from home and meeting on Zoom. A couple months after that, more people let go, the building put up for sale and my department has been reduced to a couple newcomers. Who in the hell knows how that is working out–not my problem. My husband and I do most things together ( a big day out is going to three grocery stores)! I have registered on our state website for the vaccine….whenever that will be. I have no desire to rush out to a restaurant. Make-up, clothes, jewellry?? I’m retired! There is no need for me to shop for anything. Changes? Definitely. For the duration? I can see that and it does not stress me. The only thing: a close neighbor’s died from Covid and there was no funeral. I miss the support that a floral spray or potted plant does not provide.

    • Yes! That kind of support is missing. When my cousin was so sick with COVID I thought, “I can’t do anything, be there for her daughter if she needed me (she didn’t)” or go to the funeral — I don’t do funerals, as a rule, I’d have done that one.

      The ONE thing I have occasionally wished I had is a husband with whom I shared interests, mainly X-country skiing, but that person NEVER materialized and it’s too late now. I’m too “me” at this point. And yeah, you said it exactly, “for the duration?” That doesn’t stress me, either. Weird.

  2. I love being alone — I never used to be lonely because I could always get out and socialize when I wanted to, but I also didn’t have to be sociable all the time. I have learned to extend those alone periods, and to enjoy my aloneness more and not need to be away from home every day. Zoom has been helpful in that, and as the situation improves I am sure there will be more small outdoor gatherings than we have now, but perhaps not the large gatherings or the same type of activities that we used to have. I have delved into an interesting study that I’ve been curious about for some time — this may also create many changes for me as time goes on.

    • This seems pretty similar to what I’ve experienced. I’ve found that the company of my dogs and the Big Empty (and whatever happens to be there) is all I want most of the time. I talk to people every day one way or another (as you know) but something has changed in that. I like the experience of painting and that’s new and might not make much sense, but it’s different from “doing a painting.”

      • Your enjoyment of the experience of painting makes perfect sense to me — it implies greater absorption in the painting than does “doing a painting.” I think that absorption comes with the alone time with fewer outside “distractions,” and I hope that will last after the Covid situation improves.

  3. Get the shot. Else there will be that one day someone sneezes in your face with the hyper-cactchable mutation during a rare face to face event and you will die horribly. Bear and Teddy will be orphans and I won’t be able to read about the wildlife refuge any more.

    • Don’t worry. I’m getting the shot. I signed up a couple weeks ago. 🙂 I just started wondering when I didn’t sign up in three different places.

  4. Life has changed, but somehow I have changed with it. I am not yet one of the chosen few for a vaccine in Switzerland, although I am on the List. It’s a slow roll out, but hope to get their soon. At the beginning it was summer so outdoor life continued, although due to lockdown it was a more careful way of life. Winter arrived. I have mobility problems, no car but a scooter which is useless in cold and snow. I knew that snow would be a problem, but minus temperatures surprised me. Life has entered a hoarding phase. Stocks kept in a deep freezer. Groceries ordered online and a discovery that I don’t have to go places. Independence arrived. Kitchen appliances organised and learning to bake your own bread and even enjoying it. Discovering the fun of cooking. I am lucky to live in a well organised infra structure. My golden oldie life has entered a new phase: less stress. I don’t need parties or to socialize, but thank goodness for my computer to enable it all. And a big thanks to the friendly guys that deliver my food to feed my family.

    • You know, Pat, this is utterly fascinating. I hope more people respond because it seems, so far, everyone has changed and in the case of some changes, not going back. The computer has really made it different — easier for all of us — than it would have been even 50 years ago. It’s really pretty amazing.

      • I am definitely not going back. I like my new life style: less stress, no more daily excursions to the stores – and you know I am spending less money. There are not more temptations on the shelves. The shelves are on my computer and you buy what you need., not what you might need.

        • I like that, too. The only downside is that sometimes there are things in my store (like Swiss gruyere) that are never going to show up on my computer but I might find them if I went inside. 🙂 I like shopping online through the week and picking things up at the end of the week.

  5. Am I different? Yes, I reckon I am. I haven’t actively tracked how, but I’m more cognizant of how people respect each other–and don’t, of course. I’m scheduled to get the first shot in a couple weeks. I don’t think it’ll change how I live, at least not for a while. I’ll continue to mask up when I’m around others, at least the others outside of my core of friends. To me, that’s just respect. We’re a long way from what used to be “normal.” To me, getting the shot is another form of respect.

  6. I am another one who throughout my life has always been happy to come home and shut the door on the world. I enjoyed my little outings volunteering, coffee with friends, the odd lunch but most of that ended for me when I moved anyway. I still enjoy being out and about but I feel content on my own.
    The vaccine rollout has not started here yet but Tasmania is almost back to normal, we’re getting tourists from other states now but we don’t have an international airport and most new cases of the virus seem to be coming from overseas arrivals these days. I feel safe. Nevertheless when the vaccine becomes available to my age group, probably not for two or three more months, I will get it. I want to be able to travel again one day and visit places that I know will be more crowded than my hometown. This virus is going to be around for a while yet so it would be silly not to take the precaution if I want to do that.
    So maybe I have changed in a year. I have adjusted to living a smaller life but that may be because of my changed circumstances as much as Covid I think.

    • I’ll get the vaccine, too, and, like you, living in a comparatively remote area, the virus has never been quite the lurking monster it is in big cities. I am not sure about traveling. I can’t imagine getting on a plane again. It’s generally a pain in the ass anyway plus I live 3 hours from the closest airport and 5 hours from the closest major airport. I guess when that becomes a possibility I might feel differently. 😀

      • I don’t like flying that much. Or rather I like flying but I don’t like how uncomfortable planes are and what a drag airports are. But Tasmania is an island. We do have a ferry service and I prefer that although it is more expensive and takes longer. There is an airport nearby in Wynyard with flights to Melbourne in a plane that only takes about 30 people. I’ve never been on one that small.

  7. Martha,
    Like yourself I enjoy being alone and love the sound of quiet. However, I have less time alone at home to ponder or write, etc. My time is still not my own. We socialize within our bubble. I zoom with a writers group and make use of the telephone to talk with friends. Things move at a slower pace and I’m happy about that. Great conversation you’ve started. Claudia

    • Thank you, Claudia. I also socialize within my bubble and it means a lot to all of us. I think without it we’d all be on a pretty dangerous precipice. 🙂

  8. I feel a lot like you- although I think it took me a lot longer to accept the situation and embrace the silver linings. I don’t like the pressure of social events (the online events are even worse!), and I also prefer to communicate in writing rather than in person. Having all this time home has helped me see priorities and made me realize that I can’t just wait for the life I want. I’ve also finally slowed down. That’s probably the biggest change for me. I guess I am different, and grateful, but I am truly looking forward to the end of this- I want to hug my friends and family again. I want to enjoy a flight of beer at a new brewery, see my daughter perform, and travel to promote my books and meet readers. I’m ready, although I will likely be one of the last vaccinated, so I know it’s still a long way off.

  9. Five days a week my life is pretty normal. Yeah, I wear a mask and face shield (PAPR – powered air-purifying respirator – on COVID weeks), but I do pretty much the same stuff. The biggest difference? I used to always use handrails on stairs. Now I never touch ’em. (Maybe I’m on the Nile right now…)

  10. The only real change is the lack of guilt. I no longer feel guilty for not participating in certain activities. I can sit at the computer and have not a shred of guilt for reading, writing or responding to blogs.

  11. I am still in a place of limbo – so the changes will have to sort themselves out someday and then maybe I’ll know if I want to maintain them. It is kind of a horrible place to be in many ways; like my dreams over the years of being eternally lost no matter where I am. Probably the lack of choice about most everything I used to do makes it paralyzing. I did feel a bit lighter after January 20th though. I get my second shot on Wednesday, so maybe that will help at least give me the perception that things will get “better.” At least better enough so I can visit my friends and my kids. I’ll start with that.

    • I was talking with a friend today who complained that now that COVID (in our county) has receded and more people are getting vaccinated, she has to attend stupid meetings. She had a pretty long list of things that are worse now that “normalcy” is returning. I wonder what “better” will ultimately mean — though I think Biden is doing very well to get things moving as he has. I agree with you that the changes will have to “sort themselves” out as things evolve.

  12. I’ve spent loads more time with my kids. It’s been nice. Rare. They’ve talked to me about things I know they ordinarily would not have discussed with me. I hope I can keep that closeness even when the world starts opening again.

    • I think that’s lovely. I hope I remember to put this all together in a little post when it’s “over.” Most people are noting changes that they like.

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