In these times

Even in “normal times,” it’s easy for me to count failures. In the age of quarantine, it’s exponentially easier. As someone who historically could read more than a book a week, I’m struggling to get through one a month. I’m eating fewer veggies and working out differently, and I’m feeling hyper-critical of my body. I wanted to be more productive with all of this free time — to paint or write more, neither of which I’ve done at all. The list goes on and on. But I’ve started trying to be more grateful, to appreciate, even celebrate the ways quar has been okay.

When I moved to Philly from New York, I imagined my spring and summer would consist of exploring my new city, having friends over for drinks on my new patio, driving to the Poconos and Jersey Shore for weekend getaways. And while I’m not going anywhere or having anyone over, quarantine has allowed me to experience my new city in a different, perhaps even better way.

While I still have a long list of Philly restaurants, bars, and breweries I want to go to, I’ve still been able to try so many new places via delivery or curbside pickup. Andrew is single-handedly keeping the southeastern PA breweries in operation. And while I can’t go to all the spots I want to, I’m able to take Genny on long walks and explore the various neighborhoods nearby and enjoy the weather as spring turns to summer.

To experience a city during this crisis is to see it both at it’s best and it’s worst. While everything is closed and I can’t experience the culture it has to offer, I can see the strength of everyone who lives here. I can see the “thank-you” notes in my neighbors’ windows for doctors and other essential workers, experience the overall compliance with the stay-home order and mask-wearing, see and feel the way the community has rallied to support hospitality workers. It has been an incredibly weird, yet comforting welcome, to know that this city protects its own, that my neighbors support me and I them.

In a week, I should be driving down to spend two weeks at the beach with my family and our dogs. I should have gone back up to Rochester to spend Easter with my parents, and I should have hosted two different groups of friends in March. It’s both disappointing and alienating to only speak to no other human than Andrew (and my dog) all day every day, to not know when I’ll be able to see my loved ones, and know that it could be eternities until I can hug them.

But I’ve also found new ways to connect. In addition to regular Zoom calls and FaceTime, I’ve done trivia virtually, participated in a presentation party, played games over Google Hangouts. This weekend I will attend a friend’s 30th birthday party over Zoom. I miss seeing everyone I love in person, but the ability to laugh with friends or family has been truly priceless. I often wonder how I’d be holding up without them.

I’ve also found that connecting with a friend over a shared interest has helped, and in some cases, encouraged me. I’m currently working through Kayla Itsine’s 12-week BBG program with a friend, where we text each other every day as we complete the workouts. In addition to getting me to workout regularly and stay accountable, it gives us a reason to check in daily, not just about fitness but about how we’re holding up ~in these times~.

I’ve also connected a jarring amount about Survivor. Watching the most recent season live simultaneously with friends and my family has helped measure the passage of time, and given me a designated weekly time to talk, and often laugh, with everyone. Watching old seasons with Andrew and Genny has become our routine, punctuating the end of the workday, and gossiping about castaways has connected me with a coworker, which I am also grateful for.

And of course, Genny herself has been a blessing. When we got a dog, we imagined lots of time at dog parks, taking car rides, hiking. We’re lucky our dog park is still open, but our plans for adventure have been stifled for now. Nevertheless, G is truly a gift, especially in quar. She gives us structure and something immediate to worry about. Given that she was essentially feral for a year before we adopted her, training her has given us daily challenges to tackle and small victories to celebrate. Taking her for walks is sometimes the only time I leave my house. And the best part of my day is every evening when I lay on the couch and she curls up in my lap.

This is an incredibly weird and upsetting time, and I feel lucky to *knock on wood* not suffered any awful consequences. I don’t know anyone who got seriously ill. Andrew and I both still have our jobs. We have a whole house and outdoor space. We’re not planning a big event like a wedding that has to be rescheduled or cancelled. And despite the small failures I feel, quar has illuminated the things that are important to me, that always have been, and will be. I’m so lucky to have everyone who is in my life, and so lucky that they remain safe.

Hang in there guys. Stay safe, stay home.

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