After a momentary consultation with my husband, Paul, I declined. “We’re just not ready,” I wrote. But while the decision was quick, its aftereffects have lingered.
When our self-isolation began, followed days later by the official lockdown, part of me was excited. Part of me loved that suddenly everything was called off. No longer did I have to arrange activities, buy tickets, make reservations, schedule appointments or head to the gym. I went into my calendar and gleefully hit delete, delete, delete – no excuses needed.
Of course, before long, my calendar filled with Zoom this and Zoom that, and I have been grateful for every single one of those classes and visits and lunches and cocktails. They have been my connection – to my work, to my friends, to my family, to the world beyond my house.
And yes, I complain: too much screen time, not enough human contact. I miss being in the room with people, observing the subtleties and depths that can only be sensed in person.
The reason I said no to backyard cocktails wasn’t only my now-ingrained pandemic caution. It was a reluctance to give up some of what comes with an enforced lockdown. And acknowledging this reluctance has been fraught.
Here are a few of my conflicts:
• Maybe I won’t ever go back to the gym. I’ve been exercising daily, and, truth is, going swimming is a big production.
• When I teach on Zoom, it doesn’t matter what the weather is. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing from the waist down. And all of my students show up, and show up on time.
• I like not having to drive anywhere. And I like knowing that if I did, there’d be no traffic.
• I relish the challenge of rationing food and supplies. You can’t argue with it economically and ecologically. And it suits my compulsive tendencies.
• And there’s something about those Zoom cocktails – the no-fuss, BYOB, no clean-up, hour-is-just-about-all-anyone-can-take – that I loathe to give up.
Epilogue: We had our cocktails, and at the end, our friend said, “I hope that next time, we can do this in person.”
“I hope so, too,” I said.
But do I?
~ Susan Hodara