Everything Is Different
Now it’s different. He will spend the day at this computer; conference calls, video meetings, e-mails. I will stand at my upright desk, sending out pitches to editors trying to land my next assignment. The two of us, in the same room daily for the first time in 22 years.
All the years prior, kissing goodbye at the door in the morning. Hugging in the evening, and then sharing conversation about what happened in his world, my world. These exchanges have become not his or hers, but ours. We take a break and play our Xbox Kinect video games. We use our bodies as the controller and get exercise while we compete playing a game of table tennis or a round of bowling. Tossing the ball and getting more gutters than strikes.
The Virus Causes Uncertainty
I make him a sandwich while I warm up steamed zucchini, carrots, and cauliflower au gratin that he made earlier in the week. We keep a running list of things we are getting low on or that we might like to eat. We don’t know if the store will have any of the items on our list. There is so much that was a certainty a month ago that is uncertainty now.
The uncertainty of living through a global pandemic with the stay-at-home orders coming from the governor has made people grasp at things to try and gain a sense of control. Hoarding toilet paper, hoarding paper towels, cleaning supplies, bleach, alcohol–anything to keep us, we, them, from the death toll that bombards us daily.
It is a virus that has us calling doctors, nurses, janitors, and grocery clerks, heroes. It is a virus that has me spending every day with my husband. For the first time in 22 years, we search through recipes together and plan to bake things like oatmeal cookies, cinnamon rolls, and cook things like vegetarian meatloaf with beans instead of beef.
The Virus Brings Us Together
We have always been close and spent six months in a 17-ft. van traveling to 34 states. We can be together 24/7 in small spaces and are fortunate we enjoy each other’s company. His jokes don’t get old. His voice is still pleasing.
This social distancing that we are doing, this stay-at-home home order might be another story we end up telling like our trip to Paris or Abu Dhabi or cross country. Maybe it will be more like 9/11 or the work we did in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Or maybe we will one day talk about our bi-monthly brunches with friends that have turned into meetups on video software. Maybe we will talk about the fear we have for each other and our aging parents, along with everyone we love.
Perhaps we will talk about the slowing down of life, the looking at each other instead of our phones, the conversations we start that often trail off as we go about the days side by side. Maybe we will talk about how we got this time to get to know each other again. To listen to each other’s hopes, dreams, and fears. Maybe we will most remember the comfort and joy and passion we shared 22 years ago that led us to a little chapel in Las Vegas where we promised to love each other for better or for worse.
I assume some people would call this the worst part, but after breast cancer scares, lymphoma scares, sarcoidosis, schizophrenia, and all the rest, this is the better. Being next to each other and getting a glimpse into each other’s otherwise unknown lives–this is a gift brought to us by the tragedy of a deadly virus.
Rebecca Chamaa writes from Southern California.
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