The vaccine is coming.
The pandemic will end.
But I’m still not done with my quarantine to-do list. And time is getting shorter.
I started this list last march.
It contains all that one can imagine doing when the world is shut down and you are left to your own devices. With no expectations.
This is a unique opportunity for pure inactivity.
My first plan was to sit in all the rooms of my house. Just sit there and be very quiet. And eventually look around.
In the guest room, I am obviously not me. I am a guest of me. Awake at midnight looking around the room. Why did I put all the leftover stuff in here? A scary Balinese dancer, fingers and toes curled, in a heavy black frame over the drop front desk my grandmother always hated and gave to me. Fake red parrot tulips in a corner vase that look quite authentic if you don’t touch them. A tasseled pillow with a Chinese junk on it.
I’m perplexed. And I’ve only made it to the guest room.
Over the course of the pandemic I thought I’d call or text everyone I knew. So that they didn’t forget me since they weren’t seeing me. I started at the top of my contacts list but have only made it to “H”. So that’s not progressing either.
I decided to become a daily cook that uses recipes.
Normally I don’t do that. None of us do. I just buy chicken and a bunch of vegetables and hope for the best.
But now I’m making soups and stews from the Ina Garten cookbook, eating them for a few days and sending the recipes to friends. Like Martha Stewart.
I decided that when I see a seriously cluttered drawer, I’d empty it. In that moment. Not stuff more stuff in and wait for a formal Saturday morning drawer cleaning. I had one drawer in the kitchen with twenty-seven chopsticks in it. And another full of old, melted citronella candles.
For a while, at nine am, I’d go outside and study the patterns of the early morning sun. Staring at different parts of the yard. My plan was to do it an hour later every day. Make mental notes. And then start over.
At four o’clock I would make myself sit on the couch with a cup of herbal tea…a different one every day…and read unexpected things. Newspaper or magazine articles I’d never gotten to. Books from my library. I’d do this for an hour. Making myself smarter and smarter.
I started going through my closet trying on things. My criteria was that if I wouldn’t wear it to meet a long lost lover, I’d toss it. Which would take care of most of my closet. But I don’t have a long lost lover. So I lost interest. Fully intending to pick it up again.
Soaking my feet in the teal blue footbath I ordered from amazon when I couldn’t get a pedicure. Pinning colorful, wildly artistic things on my bulletin board. Writing a poem every day for a week. Learning to play chess. Walking my dog Rosie ten thousand steps every day. And baking snickerdoodles.
None of this is essential.
But when you’re home in quarantine, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You have no plans. You can’t go anywhere. No one is stopping by. You’re it.
Time to do all the foolish, non-essential things that will make you a far more interesting, expansive person. Time to go inward…while no one’s looking.
So when you come out of hibernation post covid, you’ll be changed. And not just from washing down your broccoli and stockpiling paper towels.
But you’d better hurry.
The clock is ticking. The vaccine is slowly making its way around the country and pretty soon you won’t have time to do nothing.
And you won’t have an excuse.