Here is how this past week was supposed to go:
My husband was supposed to go on a long-planned deep-sea fishing trip, and I was supposed to go to a conference on the other side of the country. Then he was going to leave a week early for our trip to Europe, so he could spend some time with colleagues in Barcelona. I had big plans for the week on my own: work, of course, but also recording, filming and maybe even editing my current music video project. I would mulch my community garden plot, which was coming in so nicely. And yoga every day! My long-time studio recently opened a branch down the street, so there are plenty of in-person options close at hand, as well as near-infinite classes online.
Then this happened.
So much for travel, yoga, garden mulch, or singing into a microphone. But we pivot as we must, and learn what we can in the process. I am celebrating the fact that more than two years into this pandemic, I am finally living first-hand some of COVID’s most seminal experiences.
Quarantine! And Instacart.
Quarantine is not so bad, it turns out, when the whole household is in simultaneous lockdown (particularly welcome in our case, since the whole house in our new-ish urban digs is three rooms). Staying in isn’t all that hard when you’re sick: I haven’t felt like doing much this week, to be honest, except reading novel after novel, the more mindless the better, taking periodic breaks to sniff the coffee grounds to make sure my olfactory system still works (so far, so good).
And Instacart! Steve and I had both expected to be out of town, so the larder wasn’t exactly loaded. We don’t really keep a loaded larder these days anyway: there are multiple grocery stores a short walk from our apartment, and picking up a few items makes a nice work break or after-dinner stroll. Plus, we have a modest-sized kitchen with limited storage space – no pantry, no basement, no garage. Our Costco days are well in our past.
Instacart pretty much worked. An hour or so before the delivery we started getting texts about substitutions. Lowfat instead of full-fat oat milk? Sure. Bells & Evans instead of the store-brand organic whole chicken? No problem. Mandarins instead of navels? Whatever.
There were still a few surprises when the order got dropped on our front steps. The whole chicken was actually a couple of breasts: not what we had in mind, but we could work with it. The navels-turned-mandarins turned back into navels: great. Some stuff never got delivered at all (looking at you, four-pack of avocados! Or rather: NOT looking at you.)
Then there was the three-pack of paper towels made from recycled paper that we’d ordered. Here’s what we got:
I should note that this is not simply fifteen rolls of paper towels. It is 15 MEGA-ROLLS, WITH 50% MORE!!! Presumably, 50% more than the paper towel roll standard as defined by the US Bureau of Weights and Measures.
This one was a bit more of a head-scratcher. We ordered three rolls of paper towels because that is exactly the number of paper towels we have room to store. But plans change. So we have learned, like everyone else, to get a little creative.
We’re slowly getting to the other side of this infection. It’s not awful to have unexpected downtime. We’re using up some of the items that have been languishing in the back of our pantry (kombu makes a nice broth, even after a couple of years in the cabinet). The book I read yesterday was SO mindless that I began to hate myself, just a little bit: I consider that a very good sign of recovery.
And thus we learn that more than two years in, COVID still has lessons to offer.
Take time to stop and smell the coffee grounds.
And when infectious disease strikes, load up on excessive quantities of paper goods.