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IX: The Hermit

On Monday, the City of Philadelphia issued a Stay at Home order to help combat COVID-19 cases in the city. It’s been a bit of a surreal adjustment, as most people will probably say right now, but we’ve been lucky. Within our home, not much has changed in our day-to-day lives, aside from that overarching feeling that many of us seem to be afflicted with right now: that mixture of sadness, guilt, gratitude, uncertainty, and fear.

Hindsight is always a fascinating creature. I remember seeing a warning about testing visitors arriving from Wuhan at Newark airport back in January when I arrived home from our trip to Lisbon. At the time, it was just a random notice, no context. Who knew that a few weeks later it would become the primary topic in our home, with friends and family, and beyond?

Gustavo and I decided to start practicing social distancing about two weeks ago, after my last trip to the gym where it hit me, “Hm, I don’t think this is responsible any more.” We were able to start making some adjustments at home – getting a jump start on grocery shopping, filling up on gas, and grabbing some at-home workout equipment (dumbbells, mainly) to keep up a relatively normal routine.

Both of my parents are old enough to be a higher-risk population, but have been okay otherwise. It makes me wary to offer to help since I don’t know if we’ve been exposed at all (my mom’s car battery died yesterday and I started running through scenarios of what we could do if she needed help getting groceries, even though she lives about two hours away). Gustavo’s parents have hunkered down in Brazil, in spite of the lack of action being taken by their own president.

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Aside from wanting to just document thoughts and experiences for myself in the future, I figure it might be at least a little helpful to contribute some “things that have been working” for us while we’re home. Both my husband and I always work from home together, so we’re lucky in that we’ve already adapted to always being around each other all the time – literally.

So what have we been doing?

First of all, we’re watching a lot of movies and TV shows. To be honest, this is pretty normal for us and usually something I complain about (“We never go out anywhere!”). We rented The Invisible Man the other night since I’d mentioned that I wanted to go to the movie theater to see it when it came out, so we turned off the lights in the living room and streamed it. We’ve also been watching our weight in old Supernatural episodes since I’ve pretty much worked my way through every other series on Netflix already and fifteen seasons feels like it will keep us busy for a while. (Buzzfeed’s list of movies being released for streaming instead of in theaters has been pretty handy.)

Since I recently started getting back into powerlifting training, I’ve still been working to get some movement in pretty much every day. I lucked out in that my program started including a body weight/at-home series and we have a stationary bike already. That said, I’ve been trying to take advantage of as many online classes as possible, too. My gym has started streaming their group classes and I had a chance to try out a dance class from Tula Yoga after never quite getting myself to a studio in Philly. Plus, my friend, who inspired me to become a yoga teacher in the first place, has also started offering at-home classes, which is exciting since I live too far away to go to her classes normally. (Also, if you’re able to and want to support an awesome organization, OutWOD is starting at-home classes, as well!)

I have joined the bandwagon of folks who are baking more. I’m trying to be more conscious of what we have in our pantry and using things before they expire to avoid any waste, but also, I just find baking really relaxing. I have a few recipes lined up that I was to try (mostly banana bread and some muffins). It’s been a helpful mental break when I want to shut off some of the ongoing anxiety I’ve been feeling – plus, it helps that I like to play music and dance when I bake, so I’m not sure which part has been more helpful.

I know everyone keeps talking about keeping a routine, but I feel like it’s important to adapt since this is not a routine time. I normally spend some time meditating, reading tarot, and writing in the morning, but I’ve also cut back a lot on some of the classes I had been focusing on in order to give myself some space. So while my morning practices have continued to be helpful for me, I’ve also been really trying not to force myself to achieve or accomplish anything since I worry that it’ll drive me to burnout or something else unsustainable.

That space has given me more time to connect, either with friends or coworkers. My mom and I ate dinner together the other day over FaceTime, which I’d like to try to do at least once a week. I feel like I’ve also been introducing her to the world of memes (and she, in turn, has been sending them to my 80 year-old aunt – which I adore).

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Above all, though, I think we’ve just been really mindful and appreciative of the privilege we have in this time. Since we both work in an industry that hasn’t (yet?) been too affected by what’s happening and we already worked from home, there’s a strange sense of normalcy to our day-to-day. The biggest change for us is that we were looking to move back to NJ in July or so, and that will likely be delayed – which, of all the problems we could have, I’m happy with. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to maintain any memberships or subscriptions I have to help support those around me when others can’t, donating to funds for service workers as much as possible, and generally just trying to be emotionally present for the people in my life. It’s hard though, right?

That said, I am trying to convince Gustavo to let me cut his hair while we’re staying at home, but we’ll see how that goes in the end…

By the way, for Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents, you can register to vote by mail for the primaries 🙂

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