corona diaries, day whatever: needing a mental health break

The week didn’t start out so great: A friend of mine wanted to know if I could take a walk with her, which I was totally up for, having seen very few people outside my immediate family and strangers in the grocery store these past months. Then she told me she and her husband had just been on a cross-country flight home from the East Coast, where they went for no other reasons than because flights are dirt cheap and to see the colors change. After giving it some thought, I texted her to say I wasn’t quite comfortable that she had been on the opposite coast and in an airplane and we’d get together in a couple weeks. She took it well.

Photo by Toni Cuenca on

I did not want to chance meeting up and possibly being exposed, being we have had a couple COVID scares, mainly from my son, who is an essential worker (if you consider making people overpriced coffee drinks essential) and who has had coworkers test positive.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t want to see her. I also was having a big, fat case of FOMO, failure of missing out, and it put me in a funk. I have worked from home almost my entire adult life, but because I was also raising four kids and money was tight, I couldn’t take advantage of the “freedom” people now working from home during COVID think it gives them. Add to it the fact that my friend didn’t think twice about taking her husband, who is not in the best of health, on a cross-country jaunt that entailed breathing in stale, recirculated airplane air for 5 hours and mingling with people whose DNA does not match their own, and it kind of made me mad. What they do is their own business, of course, but is sneaking out of town and risking getting or spreading COVID on your return worth it? She also told me she was going to a shower the next day. A shower? My daughter, who got married a few weeks ago in a quickie ceremony in front of a city worker, had no wedding, let alone a shower!

The weather is turning hot again after a couple seasonal days last weekend. And I hate it. This kind of weather gives me migraines. Could it also mess with my serotonin’s juju, I wonder? Whatever the reason, I was not in a good mental state Monday, Tuesday . . . well, all the way through to today, Friday.

I feel like the world is flying by. Four family birthdays whizzed past with little fanfare, including a couple that were milestones and should have been properly recognized. My daughter’s wedding–our one big family event ever–has come and gone with no celebration. Her birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, with mine a month later, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon, but nothing will have changed by then.

Halloween is tomorrow. The county and state authorities are discouraging trick-or-treating, which is fine with me. I don’t have little ones anymore. But today was a Halloween celebration at work, and, because of my funk, I decided not to go. I was not up for dressing in costume, which I never do anyway, or seeing people I work with, even though some I haven’t seen for a while. I just thought it was unnecessary and just a way to further alienate those women I work with who are older and not in the best of health and therefore not able to participate because they are considered high risk.

To shake my bad mood, though, I vowed to do something about it, and the one thing I thought I’d do was go to a pumpkin patch. I love one that is on a farm about a 45-minute drive from our house, but I knew I didn’t want to drive that far. The car I have been driving doesn’t run too smoothly anymore–and that’s our newer car. So, I decided I’d use an older vehicle we own and go to the farm that is fewer miles from home. But no sooner did I pull away from the curb than I noticed the flat-tire symbol on my dashboard light up. The diagram pointed to the rear passenger tire. So, I ran a quick errand and went to a nearby filling station for air.

Getting back in the vehicle, I saw the symbol was still on. I then decided to return home, pick up my husband’s key, which isn’t as badly falling apart as mine (thanks, Honda, for using the cheapest plastic ever on your key fobs), because I worry that the guys in the shop would break it further, and head to Costco for a tire repair. But I was almost home when I looked down on the dashboard again and saw the flat-tire light had disappeared! Yes!

I decided to chance it and drive the 23 minutes to the closer farm. It was thumbs-up the whole way, with no more flat symbol. I pulled into the rural farm and took a look around. It was lovely there! There was a small pumpkin patch (tomorrow’s Halloween, so I didn’t expect much), a nursery, a coffee bar, outdoor seating, lovely photo op spots, and a sweet gift shop. I was in a small bit of heaven. I could feel the dopamine leveling off and I was, dare I say it, happy for a short while. This feeling ended, of course, when I turned on the engine upon leaving and saw the flat-tire symbol again. Ugh!

I made it home, without incident, though. The symbol went off again on the drive, which made me sing along with Tom Petty. I was free-falling, indeed. Since luck was on my side, I decided to stop at the nearest grocery store and grab a few things while I was out. Of course, the flat-tire symbol returned when I started to drive away from the parking lot. But I got a little piece of peace today. My brain is less frazzled, and if Trump is voted out of office on Tuesday, it may last for at least four years.

Photo by olia danilevich on

corona diaries day ?: a corona wedding and life goes on

My daughter was married last Friday. It wasn’t what we all had hoped and planned for over the past year. There was no caterer, no venue, no clergyperson, no flower girl, no cute little ring bearers, no decorated tables, no cake-cutting ceremony, no music, no gown or tux, no vows read at the altar, no family friends, no honeymoon to a far-off land. What we had was a county clerk in a booth, a couple I-dos, and a piece of paper to show for it. But so it goes during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It was a bittersweet day indeed. I am 100 percent for the marriage, and I’m happy that my daughter and my now son-in-law tied the knot, but I wanted it to be a bit more special. In this crazy year in which more than 210,000 American people have died of an illness that seemed to come out of nowhere half a year ago, though, the two of them were lucky to have pulled it off at all.

Plans had changed drastically in those twelve months. They went from 120 guests down to 50 when it looked like no more than that number would be able to gather to just their family and closest friends when no gatherings outside of single households were allowed in our county. After the brief ceremony, we spread out in the nearby park, socially distanced and masked. We brought our own picnic lunches and beverages and only shared wedding cupcakes created by the groom’s cousin and my daughter’s close friend.

Like so many couples this year, my daughter and son-in-law considered putting the wedding off, but until when? What is the magic date that this virus will be history? With no vaccine just yet, there is no reason to believe this virus will be eradicated anytime soon. In fact, it just keeps growing, and now even the president, who didn’t take it seriously at all, refusing to wear a mask or heed precautions, has contracted it. So, with a disease that has afflicted 7.44 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide lurking about, no one can say for sure when it will be safe to move about the country.

My daughter and son-in-law got it right, though. They were more interested in being married than having a wedding. They were more inclined to save the money it would have cost to throw a big party than to see it disappear in one day. They realized that there is no reason to put off for tomorrow what can be done today. If coronavirus and the mayhem caused in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude and too many others have taught us anything, it is that we are not invincible, happiness and fairness in life are not guaranteed, and life is too precious to waste.