"I’m hunkering down,” Rebecca told me.
I know what she means. My friend Rebecca just returned from a road trip she made after a lot of careful consideration. First, her mother was sick. Then, she fell and broke her hip. Rebecca’s mother is 90, and she did not seem to be getting better. Rebecca decided she needed to go visit her.
Rebecca and her daughter drove across three states for the visit. Rebecca said it was a wonderful trip and she bonded with her daughter as never before. Her mother is doing a little better now.
“She’s still 90. But she knows I love her,” Rebecca said. That was the purpose of the trip, after all.
I was a little jealous of Rebecca, I’ll admit. My husband, Peter, and I have gone exactly nowhere — unless a trip to the dentist counts. Even going to the dentist was kind of exciting. It felt like some sort of exotic escape, not simply an occasion to have the plaque chipped off my teeth. I suspect I talked too much to the dental hygienist, who had a job to do that was not made easier by my chatting.
But I won’t be going back to the dentist for a while and, like Rebecca, I’m hunkering down. Peter and I still visit his sister, Lori, who is fighting cancer, so we are being particularly careful. It’s getting cold, people are moving indoors, and there doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect anything will change anytime soon. I think my whole notion of what constitutes a special occasion is shifting.
Another friend, Yvonne, comes by with her dog, Remington, at least once a week. She used to just stop when she was walking by and, if I saw her, I’d come out and give Remington a treat and we’d catch up. Now she rings the doorbell.
“Remington!” I holler at the top of my lungs.
Remington goes crazy with excitement, and I come out and sit on my front steps and chat with Yvonne. Sometimes Peter joins us. He tosses goldfish crackers to Remington who, since the start of the pandemic, has really improved his catching skills and now routinely catches six out of six goldfish that Peter tosses.
“Great job!” Peter tells the exuberant dog. “I think you’re ready for the circus!” Remington is proud, I can tell.
Yvonne and I will chat for up to a half an hour, or whenever Remington gets too bored and impatient to stand another minute, and she always promises to come back soon. I don’t remember get-togethers like this being so important before. But they are terribly important when we are all hunkering down.
I hear a lot of people talk about how we will remember the times we are living through now. Some of the predictions are far-reaching and world-altering and industry-changing and they could be right.
But I think I will remember playing games with Remington, and looking forward to Yvonne’s next visit, and reading to Lori on her deck, and watching the moon rise with Peter — with nowhere to go, and a fading memory of where we would go if we could.
We are all hunkering down now and, while I’m sure the world will get larger and more exciting again, right now it is quiet and small, and I am learning to appreciate the small and quiet things.
I called up my mom, whom I haven’t seen in almost a year. “Nothing happening here!” I tell her.
“Nothing happening here either!” she responds. And that seems to be OK.
Till next time,