I will cut adrift – I will sit on pavements and drink coffee – I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim – this fine October.Virginia Woolf
Tomorrow is the first day of October, normally one of my favorite months. It is also month eight of the Pandemic. When I received the email from my oldest son this past March informing me my grandsons’ school was going to remote learning only, I naively thought we would all listen to the scientific experts, hunker down for a few weeks, and kick Covid’s butt. If only. Instead, their school is still on remote learning, many businesses have failed or are struggling to reopen safely, we are losing too many people to this vile virus and are left dismayed and wondering, “When is this going to end?”
History reflects the human ability to adapt and I am amazed at how I have adapted to a COVID-19 world. I no longer view a trip to the grocery store as an outing of grave danger. I simply wear a mask, wipe down my already sanitized grocery cart and use hand sanitizer. I checked on the COVID-19 guidelines being followed by my hair salon and now feel comfortable when getting a life-affirming haircut. My library has reopened with guidelines in place and while I don’t spend time perusing the shelves to my pleasure, I feel comfortable popping in to pick up a book they have on hold for me.
One undertaking I haven’t embarked on is a solo road trip. Last summer and fall I was traveling back and forth to Michigan every couple of weeks, mainly to visit my failing mother-in-law. I would load up my car, kiss Mr. Smith goodbye, and head out without a second thought. This year feels different. There is a touch of tentativeness at the thought of heading across Pennsylvania and Ohio on my own, armed only with a mask and hand sanitizer!
But October is also my sister’s birthday month and I want to celebrate with her. I have thought hard about this choice, not wanting to put her or me in any danger, and have decided to hit the road. We have both been more or less quarantined since March. If you put my pod together with her pod, you still wouldn’t have ten people. As life is different for everyone at this point, our visit will be different. There will be no cocktails at our favorite watering hole. No dining in restaurants and no big shopping trips. There will be a festive birthday dinner at home with her son and daughter-in-law (her pod). There will be movie and popcorn nights. There will be projects and reading. And talking. Lots and lots of talking.
Five years ago, we celebrated Jeanne’s birthday in Paris with our niece, walking the beautiful streets, stopping wherever caught our fancy or piqued our interest. Last year we were in New York City with Mr. Smith to celebrate, going to the theater, fabulous restaurants and museums. And I took it all for granted. This year I will not take my time with my sister for granted. Perhaps like Virginia Woolf we will use this time to let our minds out of their iron cages and let them swim. I know we will drink coffee.
C’est la vie.