One year. One person. One day. 19 viruses.

So, this is it. On February 17 of last year, I got up, showered, put on clothes and makeup and drove to work. Worked a whole day, then said to everyone, “I’ll see you in two to six weeks!” and left.

I was having (wait for it) surgery the next day, and depending on what they did when they were in there, my recovery was going to be short or longish. It turned out to be the longish one, and then it turned out to be really King Kamehameha long.

My calendar back at work still reads February 2020. I’ve gone back since then, to an empty office, to do various things. I think everyone else’s last day was March 13. When I go back, there are all these “keep your distance” signs about, which I assure you had I been going into the office woulda freaked me the eff out.

And I know I’ve said this before but it’s weird. The weekend before my surgery, I went shopping with Ned. I can’t remember what we bought. Shoes, I think? And then we went to Old Navy for who knows what. But I remember before we got there, to the Old Navy, he felt sluggish, so we got coffee and drank it in his car in front of Starbucks. And I felt one of those surges of happiness. You ever get those?

“I wish this weren’t all ending,” I thought. And then I thought, what the hell did I just mean by that?

Then at work on that last day, a year ago today, everything was going so well. I was helping pitch this new account and the work was so interesting. “When I return, can I keep writing on this account?” I had asked. Usually I copy edit at work, but sometimes I write, too.

“I don’t see why not,” said my boss, and I felt that happy thing again and then the wistful thing again. Almost like a nostalgia.

What the hell do I feel like this for? I remember wondering.

And at the end of the day, I said goodbye to everyone, but it felt very Titanic. It felt very goodbye-y. I walked to my car almost in tears. Oh my god, you’ll be back in two weeks, I thought. Calm down.

Of course it occurred to me that maybe I was going to die on the table like Kanye’s mom or something, but I also didn’t really fear that, either. I just felt such a strong feeling about everything ending.

And here we are.

So that was weird and I don’t know how to explain it. I’m Sylvia Browne. To throw out one of my current references.

This past year has been the longest and shortest, ever.

My winter clothes have hung unused in my closet. When summer came, I didn’t really switch over the closet much; I just wore t-shirts and shorts from the drawer and my Frida Kahlo cotton robe all the time. Now we’re back to a year later and there those clothes are. I have sweaters in there I haven’t worn for a year. Jeans I don’t dare try to cram into.

In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t had it very bad at all. I kept my job (I ended up “returning” early when the pandemic became official. And by the way, if you wish to irk me, be sure to say “When COVID hit,” because I haven’t heard it phrased that way enough). I got to work from home. I haven’t caught the damn thing yet. I’ve been Icy I. Solation all year, but that has bothered me less than it might others who are wired differently.

But what a weird fucking year, right? And I think I’m OK, but I get livid, like throw my phone livid, at any article that has a headline indicating we might live like this forever.

After September 11, there were certain news shows that tried as hard as they could to scare you to death. You’d be watching some show and they’d burst on during commercials. “Osama Bin Laden is headed to June’s. Story at 11.” Stuff like that would ruin whatever show I was watching. I’d just get scared all over again, and eventually there were some shows I stopped watching because their news briefs made me too upset. And I have NEVER FORGOTTEN which channels did that to me.

Same with these newspaper headlines, WALL STREET JOURNAL. NEW YORK TIMES. I know what you’re doing logically, but that doesn’t help people who are generally anxious, and you are real fucksticks for not caring how your little click-me headline ruins anxious people all day long.

Anyway, here I am. Honestly, the thought of getting up and showering and heading to an office for 9 hours sounds absolutely exhausting now, and I wonder if I’ll come home that first day back just drained from too much. Too much with the driving and the people and the chatting and the overhead lights and the interruptions. I wonder if that will be weird. If I’ll be Tom Hanks at his welcome back party after he was on that island for four years and Helen Hunt had stampeded for Mr. Big.

I wonder if I’ll stand alone with a long lighter.

Ironically, to celebrate my Year of Being Home, yesterday I went to the grocery store. The one I used to go to 11 times a week, by my old house. The one where I watched the 4th of July fireworks in the parking lot with all the bag boys four or five years ago. The one where the salad bar had pudding so guess who used to have salad pudding for dinner.

I’m taking this medication. Remember when I went to the urologist for my penis a few weeks ago, and I only went cause he held my medication refill hostage? CVS texted to say it was ready, with a fine, reasonable price of $400.

“For the year?” I wondered.

No.

So I got on Good Rx, which is like a miracle site, and found the same medication for $17 at that grocery store’s pharmacy. And that’s how Edsel and I ended up driving there like it was normal.

And apparently it is normal, as it was bustling and everyone was shopping and getting pharmaceuticals and looking at the Burt’s Bees display just like it was 2019, which is the last time I was ever in that store.

I’d better go. I’m super busy counting days since I’ve been out in public exposing self to COVID. (Countdown: 1!!)

From her isolation booth,
June

41 Comments

  1. Salad pudding sounds wonderful. You need to go to Carolina’s Diner (there are several in the area). On their vegetable menu they have banana pudding. That means it must be really healthy for you.

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  2. Lovely post Coot.
    I have been isolating voluntarily for years. FOR YEARS. I know it’s hard on people who are not introverted introverts, but for me this has been heaven. Want to go to lunch? Nope sorry, Covid. Want to go shopping with me? Nope, can’t Covid. Want to go to the movies with me? Nope can’t, I watched Active Shooter and will NEVER go to a movie again.

    I have to go to physical therapy twice a week where I am one of 3 people in the building and let me tell you, that is way to peopley for me.

    Oh and by the way, I didn’t know you had surgery. You never mentioned it.

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  3. This hit home. Ha. I have been working from home since mid March last year. I thought that the kids would have been back in school by May. I, like many of you, am okay being home. Teaching online is for the birds, but it is doable. I am lucky.

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  4. I won’t be going into the office anytime soon. I think we will WFH for the rest of this year. I too, have my winter clothes that have been unworn, my jewelry which I loved to switch up and wear every day sits unworn, and I don’t know when the last time I put gas in my car. I had two doctors appointments this week so I went out. I tacked some extra time out to it yesterday and went to Hallmark, bought some stationary then strolled next door to Barnes and Noble and looked at book titles. I felt extremely better just being able to see something other than the inside of my house or grocery store, and have some pleasant conversation with the store employees. It’s bad when that is the highlight of your, not week, but months. I don’t want this to last forever. But everyone on tv says that “the new normal” is what we have now. It scares me, so I have stopped watching any news. Except when my husband has it on, I may listen a little. But when he goes to work in the evening I watch strictly Hulu – Mary Tyler Moore, MASH, Frazier, etc. all the old shows I loved. It has kept me calmer.

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  5. This will absolutely not be forever. The Spanish flu, without a vaccine, took a couple of years to disappear. We have a vaccine for this one, and the virus will be around a couple of years, but we will resume normal life. I’m hoping that it doesn’t completely go back to the way it was though. I like that, because we’ve all been hiding from covid, normal flu deaths are way down. If we could all maintain the hygiene so there are less deaths annually from flu, I think that’d be a good thing. More respect for teachers and nurses is also a good outcome.
    We’ve had it much easier in Australia than the US, and it has still be tough. I can’t believe what you have all had to deal with,

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wistfulness, the feeling of premonition, the passage of time were all so beautifully communicated by your post.
    I got my second vaccine 10 days ago so technically I can “safely” reenter the world in 4 days. I have a date with my friend, who will also be protected on that day, We had coffee together every week for years. We have big plans for face-to-face coffee and eclares. We used to think an eclair or a donut was like ordering poison! Now an eclair? Pffft. Bring on the dessert tray. I’ve been through a pandemic, baby. I am no longer afraid of an eclair.
    I wish to add that I would have gladly given my vaccine to a teacher or a single parent who has to work front line, or a needed caregiver if I could have. You all should have been first!

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  7. I too had surgery last February 18 but it was for cataracts. The left eye went great. Then on the 25th I had the second eye done. Had to have emergency surgery on March 1 for a staph infection in my eye. Here it is almost a full year later and I am still dealing with that mess. I will likely need another surgery to ‘clean out’ the eye but am holding off until the doctor and I feel it is safe to have it. Since I retired at the end of 2018 the working thing isn’t an issue. But I have noticed that the cat gets real bent out of shape if we are gone more than a couple of hours at a stretch. He is used to his petting and being fed every couple of hours.

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  8. As more and more people get the vaccine things will get back to a more normal routine, even if we still need to take precautions. And I will have to learn to stop mentally screaming every time I see a group of people together who aren’t wearing a mask.

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  9. Thank you for another great post. You are so good at putting feelings into words. Thanks, too, for the pic. It was like I could almost feel and smell my sweet doggie’s head again, though he’s been gone 6 years now.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A year ago this month was the last time we actually went out to dinner and longer than that since the last time I visited my family who all live out-of-state. We already worked from home so that hasn’t changed and I agree with everyone who mentioned they haven’t had colds as I thought of that the other day. SadieDog is the only one here who hasn’t seen a difference in her daily life. She’s just become more vocal when she wants something on her perceived doggy list and it’s up to me to read her mind. Maybe I need a caftan, turban and an eight ball. Either an eight ball or those folded paper fortune tellers we made as children.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I could feel so much of all your hearts here! And relate so much to it. Technically I am semi-retired but mostly tired right now! Moved 65 miles from the mountains to the furnace – but I am happy about that. Just hard to find motivation and energy in this never ending pandemic. I have worked from home for years so that is not hard to take – very used to being isolated with the dog and cat. I am an online therapist. But like so many of you feel – it is just so long. I gave away a ton of clothes to Goodwill – I honestly do not know when I will feel like going anywhere. It seems the longer this drags on, the more apprehensive I feel. I finally ordered some Japanese take out last night – had to walk in as I was on the way home from a fast grocery trip. It was quite a safe feeling. No one there but two clerks and cook in back. Chairs stacked at the walls. Just an open room. So weird. It took so much courage to go in there – I am amazed how skittish I feel about things like that and it just gets worse the longer I stay away.
    Let’s all pray things change and we can once again socialize – even a little?
    I loved your post June. You conveyed so much about how we all feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post June, your writing is amazing.

    I am also very fortunate, I was working from home before the pandemic and it has worked well for me. I do have an office that I can go to and I tried to go once every few weeks just so they didn’t say I didn’t need that space because I liked having the option. When I got the job I am in now and was allowed to work from home all the time I was overjoyed. I have worked from home in various degrees for the past 10 years, for years I was allowed to work from home any day except Monday or Fridays as my boss thought it looked bad. I do recognize that some jobs aren’t really work from home jobs but mine is. Every communication I have was either in email or phone as I do something very different than everyone else at my office.

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  13. When my birthday last year got cancelled (late March), I never would have guessed that it would be another trip around the sun for me, and still under detention. Spring, summer and fall weren’t awful for being able to see friends outside, but then winter arrived. I have a small pod who I can meet for breakfast periodically. It’s just not quite the same. I have gotten used to the various Zoom meetings and such, but would like to be face to face again, sometime.

    With a middle school across the street, my neighborhood is so quiet. No bells ringing. No sounds of kids playing outside, or shooting hoops. Just like the week of 9/11, as I’m in a flight path, and the sounds of nothing were ghostly. Definitely not as many planes this past year, and I get startled a bit when I hear them.

    I may be going back to work for my seasonal job in April, but it’s all work from home. Not loving that idea as much, but I don’t trust the company to do things safely in the office.

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  14. Another wonderful post June. No one ever expected this to last this long!! I feel like everyone, no matter their situation, is really feeling it now. My daughter-in-law and I had a little ‘cry-fest’ on the phone this morning because we are both so DONE, but also realize we have great lives, so then we feel guilty because people (like Joon) who live alone must feel so much more lonely. I was so happy for you when you were going for drives with Ned, and so sad when that stopped. Also I didn’t get a chance to comment yesterday on your post about getting your finances in order — AMAZING!! You should be so proud of yourself; that was really hard work and took commitment. Don’t ever let the haters get you down when they criticize anything you spend money on. They are just people that need to get a life (like me who feels happy, then sad about your social interaction lol).

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  15. Babs started singing The Way We Were as I was reading this and made me even more wistful for all the things we took for granted before this past year.
    Being a natural homebody has helped, so I don’t feel I’m missing out on too much.
    Thank G I started collecting my pensions at 65, so finances haven’t been a problem.
    I’m still working my regular two days a week in the salon, which is pretty much my social life, but all the extra precautions have sucked the joy out of that and I find I’m exhausted after three or four clients.
    I miss hugs from my friends and long time clients.
    All my family is on the opposite side of the country and in the UK, so those hugs have always meant a lot to me.
    I know so many people are struggling emotionally and financially through this and my heart really goes out to them.
    I just feel so fortunate that I haven’t lost anyone so far and that we’re all managing to muddle along until this hopefully comes to an end one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I worked at a university so we really had plenty of foreshadowing of how things would go for the pandemic. It was like watching dominoes fall and we knew what was coming so it wasn’t really a shock. There was nothing official but by spring break we knew students wouldn’t be back. My job and office situation had reached a really annoying point anyway so I was glad to work mostly from home and then I retired in October. I don’t miss any of it but I do miss all the other regular life stuff. And I miss having time to myself because my husband is also retired and never leaves the (small) house. And he’s growing an ugly beard. He’s not a beard guy.

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  17. I returned to work as soon as it was allowed and have been here even when they said we could choose to work from home. I work on the taxpayer’s dime and honestly do not feel right “working” from home a job that really is not a WFH job. And honestly, being here every day has been a boon to my mental health. I have the same reaction when I hear things that presume that THIS IS IT. THIS IS NOW LIFE. I hear “new normal” and think “no thank you”. Same with “things may look different this year” – gimme things the way they were and nobody gonna get hurt.

    I was on a thread the other day with people saying they have family members that they don’t think they will ever see again because of Covid fear. That hit hard.

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    1. P.S. June. This was beautiful. I know that feeling you describe – it’s almost tangible, but not quite. Very dreamy and almost melancholy, but not exactly.

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  18. It’s been a bit surreal. I’m surprised how much I DON”T miss doing things. Like I am perfectly content most of the time. Sometimes I get antsy. Am I the only one who dreads having to go back to the office? 60 miles round trip? The overhead lights you mentioned? Germs of the normal type? I haven’t had a cold or anything this whole time. I feel like I may get sensory overload. I’m hoping I can keep working from home forever.

    I can’t believe you had surgery. You should have told us.

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  19. OFF TOPIC: If you haven’t already, order a Tarot Reading from June. I got mine last night and AM RIVETED. I keep going back and re-reading it, trying to interpret things. DO IT.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve had 2 readings thus far. I’m always “Ooh, what do the cards say this time?” I should do this on a monthly basis.

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  20. This time last year, I was getting ready for my little house get together oblivious to the shitstorm we were headed into.

    I too have been lucky enough to work from home and I’m not sure I will ever be ok NOT working from home.
    My job was always said to not be a wfm job, yet here we are. They got almost 200k of us in a work from home environment and our production has shot through the roof.

    I absolutely hated my office environment. I work with a few hundred other people in my department and it was noisy, and people didn’t clean up after their messes, and I felt like I needed a tetanus shot every time I had to go into the bathroom. I would use ones on other floors and I had seriously considered quitting. It felt like I went to work in a middle school cafeteria, so if I ever have to go back to that, I will likely be looking for a new job. My anxiety about being around people is too high and my quality of life at home is too great for me to give up willingly.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I am so sick of being at home and yet the thpught of getting up, showered,make up and hair done and driving my 10 minute commute turns me off too. I hate the news because it isn’t just what happened it is all the spin/persuasion. Good Rx is a lifesaver. I use it for my dog’s glaucoma drops.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Powerful writing!
    I don’t watch, listen or read the news, period, I agree it causes too much stress. I do keep up with the weather on my weather app, I live in the south and we do have really dangerous weather and need to know if we will be heading to the basement.
    I just noticed the other day my summer purse is still being used, meaning I have a certain place I keep it in my kitchen and I only take out my wallet and car/house keys when I have to leave the house. That’s when I realized I haven’t been a single place that I would take along my purse, which is sad. I also realized when I was getting my tax stuff together 1/3 of the mileage we drove last year was to medical appointments and we didn’t drive much, we ate out three times one of which was on our anniversary the other two was after medical appointments.
    In the meantime, I will continue to pray.
    Tee

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    1. I really wish I’d paid attention to the exact mileage on my car a year ago today. But I just bought the dang thing in December 2019, and I know roughly the mileage and I don’t think I put 1,000 miles on it this year. I mean, I know I didn’t. The only place I drove outside of my general area (vet/Subway/CVS/god, that’s sad) was to take Edsel to the heart specialist and to take Iris to get radiated.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just took my 2 year old car in for its one year servicing yesterday. Because of the extremely low mileage, there just wasn’t a need for it until now. I think I’ve only put about 1000 miles on it since last summer.

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  23. I was not as affected by things as some; I went back to the office for two days a week fairly quickly (alternate days with my coworker) and then full time in June. I already kept hand sanitizer all over the place and used it like a crazy OCD person, which I am, so that wasn’t anything new. I will never blow out candles or eat cake that has been blown on ever again. I can’t believe we ever thought that was a good idea. I adore curbside pickup and no contact delivery. (On Saturday I placed an order with Best Buy and it was delivered, free of delivery charge, in about two hours. That even beats Amazon.) I was already having my groceries delivered, which was impossible when this all began and everyone wanted that, so my (adult) kids do the shopping. They do a great job and there’s a lot more crappy snack food in the house now. (Dunkaroos? Don’t mind if I do.) I actually don’t mind the masks and notice that there has been a lot fewer flus/colds. Of course, there has been a lot less Going Out and Getting Germs, so that’s not all due to the mask-wearing. All of my doctor/dentist appointments have been efficient; because there is a capacity limit, they schedule things better, so there is no longer any sitting around in the waiting room while they get to you. Each time it has been in and out. On Monday, I had three medical tests plus lab work and was done in an hour. AN HOUR. Used to be a whole day.

    I feel badly for the brides and grooms and new moms and dads that missed out on extravagant showers, weddings, christenings, first birthdays, etc., but I delighted in staying home and sending a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. It is all really strange. I can’t imagine that this is how we’ll live for the rest of eternity. News people just trying to catch your eye with that BS. Great post!

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  25. The Gold RX card is a huge help. I went out yesterday, my first day since the quarantine. Tony’s son who lives here had it and we didn’t get it thank God.
    I had to go to the shelter to reclaim Scrappy. He kept running away. The super nice people in the trailer park behind us returned him a number of times. I guess they’d finally had enough. I think a visit to the Big House did him good. I let him cool his jets there for a few days due to our quarantining and the icy roads. He is on his lead again, he took off that day before I could hook him up. I am looking in to electronic fencing. You can not keep an acre fenced completely unless you are rich. The deer knock parts of the fencing down on a regular basis. He got a vet check and two shots. My total bill was $47.00. What a bargain!
    I’m glad you got out. I need it. I went to Dollar General too. I am getting house buggy and I am usually quite the hermit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think they will. I’ve mulled that some. So much of what we do is collaborative, and we have all these areas in the office that enhance our creativity and so forth. Plus also we have a studio. You can’t do things you do in a studio at home. The owner of our company owns the building, so she’s not paying rent for an empty space right now or anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe they’ll consider allowing you to work at home when you need to focus and not be disturbed by the people around you. Who thought an open office would increase productivity? They must’ve been deaf and blind.
        Tee

        Liked by 1 person

        1. They always let me go home when I needed to. We used to have quiet spaces if we really needed them but then they got filled up as people’s offices when different bosses with different ideas came along. So any time I said, “I have to go think” it was no problem. I mean, I’m six minutes away. So.

          Liked by 1 person

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