Covid 19 has shrunk my world, but there is still much joy in it. I’ve replaced the busy-ness of going and doing with staying and un-doing. 

During the day, instead of getting dressed and meeting someone for an activity, I’m home in sweatshirts and loosey-goosey pants and limp hair with that flat spot in the back from sleeping on it, zero make-up, no polish on my toes or shoes on my feet.

Instead of going out, I’m excavating closets and cabinets. I found my old ballet slippers from a class I took in college in the hall closet where my daughter had stashed them years ago. Well, one of them. She probably lost the other and hid the “sole” survivor.

In the kitchen’s dedicated art supply cabinet I found a spilled tie-dye bottle. It’s been years since anyone tie-dyed in this house, until today. My yellow sponge is now smeared with orange.  

I spend part of my waking hours doing things I wish I’d done in my youth. I’m learning to play the baritone ukulele. I wanted to learn piano growing up, just didn’t want to practice. My baritone uke is more fun – it’s a little bigger than the ones you see people playing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and sounds more like a guitar.

I’ve taken lessons for a year now and, as I tell my teacher on Skype every week, “I stink, but I don’t stink as bad as I used to.” He doesn’t seem to mind that I have never been able to play even the simplest song from beginning to end without making mistakes. Lots of them. I don’t know how he stands it for a half hour every week. I’ve told him I also can’t type one sentence without making a typo, so it’s not age, it’s ineptitude. But age doesn’t help. The only thing I’ve got going for me is time. Lots of time.

I’ve lost touch with some of the group friends I used to see at least once a week to play cards. About a dozen of us gathered on Wednesdays to play Canasta or Hand and Foot. No gatherings for us in a year. Sometimes we’ll text news to each other, or wish all a Merry or a Happy, but haven’t seen some of them in months.   

Mindless cleaning is a good time for me because I get to listen to books on tape that I’ve downloaded from the library. Just finished, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, for my book group, which now meets on Zoom. For these Zoom gatherings I only have to look good from the chest up. I put a necklace on over my sweatshirt last meeting so I’d look fancy. 

In these last 12 months, life has slowed down in some ways and sped up in others. Busy people stay busy. TV-watchers watch more TV. I spend most of my lunches with my good friends Perry Mason, Paul Drake and Della Street. I can’t wait to fix my soup and salad and plop down on the sofa to watch black-and-white recorded episodes so I can fast forward through the commercials. Each show lasts about the same time it takes me to eat lunch and have dessert – an orange or apple or dried cherries since I’m trying to lose the ten pounds I gained over the winter holidays. At a pound a month, they should be all gone by next Thanksgiving, when the eating frenzy starts again.  

Every now and then it crosses my mind that I’m happier not having to pretty myself up to meet others, or being upset after learning that people in a group got together and didn’t invite me. There are no parties to be excluded from, no lunches with only a select few, and I’m not one of them. Who cares if my pedicure is chipping, my hair hangs in strings, my breath reeks of garlic, or I just let one slip?

Still, I will be glad when herd immunity lets us all come together again. I can say no if I don’t want to go somewhere, or not spend so much energy worrying about what I’m going to wear and whether they’ve seen me in the same outfit a million times. At least I will have the choice. And I won’t worry about the people I love catching this horrible disease and suffering or even – I can’t think about it. My heart breaks thinking of those who have lost loved ones.

It’s time to practice the newest song on the uke, by Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive.” I’d record myself if I didn’t stink so bad playing it. One of these days.  For now, here is the better version. Take care, everyone!