ON EMPTY STADIUMS AND AWKWARD HUGS – #JusJoJan

Maybe it’s the curfew imposed on Quebec yesterday that has me pondering again on the pandemic. This time it’s the pangs of loss that wash over me for the most unexpected – and sometimes silly – reasons that are making me sit up and take notice. I’m talking about the little background things we take so much for granted that we only realize the colour they add to our lives when they’re gone.

EMPTY STADIUMS:

Ben is grateful that football and other live sports are back on the air. I’m not a die-hard sports fan but I watch the occasional hockey game and I never miss the Super Bowl (or at least I hang in there until the half-time show). But I get a lump in my throat when I see games being played against a landscape of row upon row of empty stadium seats. Isn’t that silly? I miss the crowds in the stands wearing caps or holding cheesy rubber hands with their team logos. I miss the cheers – and the boos. I even miss the pan to the Jumbotron with goofy fans hamming it up for the camera.  Some day we will get back to full stadiums.

AWKWARD HUGS

We’re all looking forward to the day we can hold on tightly to our loved ones for as long as we want. But what about hugs from people who, whether they know you well or are just a passing acquaintance, greet you with open arms? As an introvert who reserves hugs to those in my  close circle, I always found this uncomfortable.

I could feel my apprehension rise and my insides get twisted in knots when someone closed in on me, arms wide open for a hug. For a brief moment, my impulse was to back away but then reason prevailed and I surrendered. Now I wonder whether this ingrained reaction will have changed when we finally do get back to normal. Because someday we will get back to hugs, both welcome and less welcome.

Right now, I see this as the infamous darkest hour before dawn. In my mind, at least, that means dawn is just a figurative hour away. When the second-hand ticks past the 60th second in this dark hour, the virus, quarantine and curfews will be a thing of the past. Then the sky’s the limit when it comes to how many ways we can appreciate both the big and little things in life.

Written for Linda G. Hill’s Just Jot It January for Day 10 – cheese and Day 9:  the sky’s the limit) and Day 8:  twisted.

Quarantine Question: Who is that woman???

I’ve been back in the office since early September after working from home for several months. As the second wave of COVID-19 hits, I think my husband is hoping I stay there. Being quarantined with me had him shaking his head and asking “Who is that woman?” because it turned me into either Suzy Homemaker, Martha Stewart or my mother.

I know, it’s hard to believe. I’ve always been the girl who had little interest in home décor or, really, home anything. But quarantine changed all that! For example, one day while attending a Zoom meeting from my living room, I decided the accent décor just had to go. Before you could say “quarantine”, I had ordered new curtains and a rug from two different websites. It’s only when I hung the curtains that I realized they matched the rug! Who knew? I wish I could say it was because of my attention to detail or my flair for decorating but it was just a happy coincidence. That and the fact that I like diamond patterns.

One weekend, I made enchiladas, a chicken curry and a big pot of soup. All with one package of deboned chicken breasts. You know those cooking shows that teach you how to make three meals in 30 minutes for under $10? Well, I could have given them a run for their money. (OK, it took longer than 30 minutes and cost maybe more than $10).

When I was at home, I swept the kitchen floor, dusted or vacuumed on my health breaks. One day I was cleaning the bathroom sink and I looked in the mirror and I swear my mother was looking back at me.

Want to know what I did on my summer vacation? On the spur of the moment, I decided to paint the washroom. When I’d finished, I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the grout on the floor tiles. I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with me.

My newly-discovered domestic talents have gone back into hibernation since I returned to the office. But just in case we are quarantined again, I’m stocking up on home décor and cooking magazines.

Discovery Prompt Day 24: My Elixir

I recently acquired, without any conscious effort on my part, the previously-elusive skill of being hyper aware of my surroundings. Not always of course, but definitely when I leave the house to go for a walk.  I call it my elixir and it’s all because of quarantine.

In the days “BQ” (before quarantine), going for a walk was a fitness goal to check off my “to-do” list . My mind jumped from errands I had to run to tasks to be completed at work to did I forget to iron my white blouse?  Now I notice things, I mean, really notice them. Like the rhythm of my footsteps on the asphalt or the pull of brisk air into my lungs when I inhale. Did it always feel this good?

Take today for example. On my outing, I hear the ring of a young girl’s laugh. I spot her on her front lawn.  She has slim, coltish legs and her hair is up in a long pony tail. She’s holding her cell phone in front of her, obviously facetiming with a friend. “That was really good!” she says.  “Now I’m going to do a one-hand cartwheel.”  And she does, executing it beautifully while still holding her cell phone so her friend is along for the ride. It’s pure joy to watch.

A few houses down, three people are sitting on camping chairs at the top of a drive.  In Quebec, a gathering of more than two people who don’t live under the same roof is deemed to be against physical distancing measures. I wonder if they all live in the same house. I doubt it because the chairs are too carefully positioned at what seems to be at least six feet apart. But who am I to deny them the small pleasure of having a chat in the middle of a Friday afternoon in April? And why shouldn’t they get some use from those chairs? They won’t be needed at the sidelines of kids’ soccer games or at outdoor concerts this year.

I round the corner and I can’t see them, but I hear a flock of birds chirping loudly from the top of a tall fir tree. By the sounds of it, there are a lot of them. Don’t they know about the physical distancing? Of course they don’t. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter because this virus isn’t attacking them. It’s only hunting man, the supposedly most evolved of all creatures. Let them sing and make their music for us.

I see and hear so many things that would have escaped my notice before: A tiny, pale pink tricycle with training wheels temporarily abandoned by its owner. A dog barking at a house around the block from mine. Did they get a new dog or has it been there all along? I’m not sure. What I do know is I come home refreshed and  looking forward to tomorrow’s discoveries.