Recently, I’ve been going through my journals and began rereading the journal that I started on March 13, 2020 once we found out that the schools and many businesses were going to have to shut down. I remember thinking, “I need to document this because it’s about to get crazy.” Honestly, I think I was for a little while. Ask my husband about the changing room that I made for him off the garage when this all started. It was right out of a scene from Dexter!
During the pandemic, we as a world were faced with many challenges. As we had to stay at home, we began to come up with many creative ways to occupy our time. We started new hobbies, cleaned out closets, organized photos and some of us even set up a Quarantine Olympics (We even made a score board and medals!!). There were so many unknowns, and it was difficult to know what was safe and what wasn’t.
For the first time in my life, as I walked through BJ’s, I saw empty aisle after empty aisle. There was a shortage of paper products, cleaning supplies and many of the most basic necessities, such as milk and eggs. I started to panic inside because I thought, “What if I can’t find what we need?” And then I really panicked when I thought, “What if I can’t find my Dunkin coffee and Diet Coke?!”
I started to go from store to store in search of what we needed, but even that was a chore. In the beginning, I would wear a long raincoat with a hood, a mask, gloves and boots, my version of a hazmat suit. I carried only a credit card, my car key and cell phone in my pocket, nothing else. I waited online to get into a store, sometimes up to 45 minutes and then ran through it while holding my breath as best I could in search of the items I needed. Never in my life did I think I would be so happy when I finally found toilet paper!
Then there was the process after leaving the store. I debated whether or not I should share this but then thought, “Why not? We’re all friends now. You need to know this AND I bet you all did some version of this in the beginning too.” Let’s see if you can visualize this. Once I got to my van, I would unlock it and open the side door. I would then unbutton my raincoat, take off one glove, remove my coat with the gloved hand and turn it inside out using my ungloved hand to touch the inside of the coat and hang it up in my van where it would stay until the next time I would have to go out.
I would then remove the other glove making sure to turn it inside out as well, so my hands didn’t touch the outside of my gloves. Wait, it gets better. I would then put on a new pair of gloves, open the back of my van and use baby wipes to wipe down all the groceries as I put them in the van. Once done, I would close the back, remove the gloves and use hand sanitizer just in case I touched something with my bare hands. I would then take a few more baby wipes to wipe my key, credit card, phone, door handle and steering wheel.
I would then get into my van, start the car, put the AC on high and push the recycle air button to clean the air, wait about 5 minutes, and only then would I remove my mask. I would make sure not to touch my face until I got home and once home, would scrub my hands and arms as if going into surgery. Once the groceries were put away, I would then take a shower, just to be completely safe. This entire process was so mentally and physically exhausting that by the time I was done, I was ready for a glass of wine and it was only 10am!
I’m so glad I took the time to keep this journal. It reminded me of where we started, how far we’ve come and gives me hope that things will continue to move in the right direction. I’m sure you can all relate and I would love to hear your pandemic stories.
Thanks for reading!!