Week #9 of the Covid-19 Pandemic and life in Annapolis, Maryland USA continues to feel as if someone pressed the pause button.
Some restrictions have been lifted, but as one news pundit aptly said, “People will vote with their feet.” So despite the loosening of some of the regulations in Maryland that allow many retail businesses to re-open at 50 percent capacity, I’m not running out to the store. In Anne Arundel County, retailers that were not open before, can offer curbside pick-up only. Lined up on West Street and on side streets downtown are cars and people waiting to pick up their favorite foods at local restaurants. And perhaps people are also pulling up alongside shops, to pick up shoes or a dress they’ve been admiring in a window display. While I am empathetic to the plight of local businesses, I’ve been gradually weaning myself away from buying excess items I don’t need. During this time of “staying at home” I’m focused on using and enjoying what I already own.
Unfortunately, too many people have started to congregate in downtown Annapolis, for me to feel safe walking down by City Dock, so we are keeping our dog walking route going in the opposite direction away from the City. I continue to see some wonderful garden and window box displays that brighten my morning.
Standing in line to pick up take-out is not something I want to do. I’ve never been a fan of eating out of disposable containers or off paper plates. Many of the visitors to the downtown streets of Annapolis are not wearing masks and not observing social distancing. We’ll find out whether the infection rates go up in the next two weeks!
I continue to do my cooking at home. Now that the weather has turned warm, we can eat outside on the porch al fresco and I can pretend I’m somewhere else—a place that doesn’t have the coronavirus. The flowers with their brilliant colors and the sounds of birds are wonderful to enjoy as well is the reduced auto traffic. Now we can easily walk in the middle of the street on our strolls, but there remains that sense of foreboding gloom. Talk of a dark winter, has me worried; for although the government tells us things are “under control” I do not believe that to be true. After all, we were told in March we didn’t need to wear masks. A month or two later as the stay at home orders continued, the story changed and we are now told to wear masks when entering any establishments or getting closer than six feet.
Outside activities, recreational boating, bicycling, jogging, horseback riding, golf, and hiking—these seem to be what most people are gravitating towards. The creeks in and around Annapolis have filled up quickly with kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, motor boats, sailboats, and just about anything that floats—appearing to the onlooker as if that six foot distance is not being maintained as one vessel glides past another. Outside feels safer. The sky is a deep blue and the clouds white and fluffy, just like a glossy picture postcard.
This past weekend on my walks I saw a number of small gathering in yards and on patios, the attendees sitting in chairs six feet apart. Peter and I visited our friends John and Linda and ate dinner with them outside in their driveway. We brought our own food and drinks and dutifully sat apart, but did share cookies and ice cream treats. Where do you draw the line—literally—as far as what is safe.
The other way to socialize is via video conference and on Thursday afternoon I attended a virtual cocktail party composed of my old book club friends. Ten people attended and it was great to see them. The computer camera takes you into everyone’s home, their personal space, and behind them you see people’s pets, their messy bookshelves, the pillows on their bed—all sorts of things. Getting the camera positioned just right can be a challenge. Faces loomed broad and wide on the screen when some of the participants talked while others appeared distant and fuzzy.
Folks tried to briefly catch everyone up on their state of mind and their latest news and we went in alphabetical order. This was quite different from how we would have interacted in person. When you attend a gathering of that size, usually two or three people individually catch up with one another. Gradually they move about the room and talk to other friends. The conversation ebbs and flows. But at the virtual party, there is no physical location and communication is specifically conveyed with words and facial expressions. No additional body language is used. Time is often limited, so an organized approach is needed. It works. In these times we have to use whatever tools are available.
The old-fashioned telephone conversation, still provides comfort, for talking directly with family and friends. Although I very much schedule my day with work, writing, exercise, cleaning and organizational tasks—it is my own schedule and I can talk on the phone as long as I’d like. I look back over the volume of pages of written in my blog journal in addition to my creative work and I am surprised by how much I’ve produced. Life is on pause. The world moves in slow motion. I wait. Maybe something will happen and a treatment for this dreadful disease that most people are afraid of catching will be found. Maybe not. It is out of my control. All I can do is write and try to be a better version of myself with each passing moment.