“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver
Friday ~ March 20, 2020
The days are becoming a bit of a blur. We are well-ensconced in lockdown. My husband and I made excellent use of the items at our disposal to creative connections with people we would normally interact with in person.
My husband set a chair on top of the dining room table, upon which he placed my computer in order to offer a live video yoga class to our community of yogis we have been building over the past several years. I would normally offer a Friday yoga class for my husband and his colleagues at the university where he is studying for his doctorate, and this was the next best thing. In our virtual classroom, we had visits from very real feline and canine participants. I missed being able to connect with everyone who comes to class in person, but it was fun to see people post photos of their home yoga spaces they had created for the class. Atticus the husky particularly enjoyed the restorative yoga poses toward the end of the class.
My husband met with faculty on his dissertation committee via Zoom, which seems to have become a very popular platform for creating safe social distancing connections during the lockdown. I have seen many yoga teachers offering classes this way.
In the afternoon, I offered the second rooftop concert. The first concert my friend Kate from Massachusetts tuned in. to be fair, I created the event on Facebook 10 minutes before concert time. Friday afternoon, it looked like there were anywhere from 8-15 people tuning in over the course of the one hour concert. It was so cold that even the cats were reticent to join me. Two made a brief foray onto the roof, perhaps thinking that it must not be all that cold if I was still sitting out there, but they soon determined it was in fact not warm enough to warrant an extended stay.
I was happy, receiving text messages from friends getting their “front row seat” and saying, “see you on the roof”.
Earlier in the day we walked in the forest with a friend, making sure to keep at least 1.5 meters between us at all times. I felt so much better after having connected with another person (outside of our lockdown duo, of course). A bit of normalcy in a very strange time.
I “visited” my sibling in Canada via Skype and learned that Canada was requiring 2 meters between people at all times. So we have it pretty good here in Belgium. To be fair, we really do have it very good. We have food, water, and comfortable shelter. We have electricity and heat. We have each other. We are safe. People are behaving respectfully of one another and taking the lockdown rules seriously (for the most part). I have seen joggers, cyclists, and walkers fairly close together, but it’s possible they all came from the same household. And I also know that I need to try to just ride the lockdown wave without getting too anxious or uppity.
The grocery store has become a pretty intense place. All the money I am saving by having events and trainings cancelled I seem to be spending at the store. When I have gone to the store, I find myself getting so nervous by all of the empty shelves that I buy in bulk and also buy strange stuff that I would never normally buy….like fried calamari. What? The entire seafood section was empty except for a couple packages of fish cakes, a package of fried calamari, and a package of sole (which turned out to have weird pink stuff inside that my husband the former fisheries in Alaska worker determined was something we probably did not want to eat). A sign was posted on the nearly empty shelves of toilet paper, requesting that people take no more than two of any kind of hygienic product (toilet paper, hand wipes, etc.).
There was an entire guidance system with different colors of tape on the floor of the store by the checkout counters, instructing people where to stand. There were large plexiglass barriers between the customer and the staff person. All staff were still wearing masks and gloves.
I am used to living in very rural areas where it is regular practice to buy in bulk. In Washington and Alaska, I had a freezer chest and an extra refrigerator. I always had containers of water on hand in case the water or electricity went out. I had flashlights, non-perishable food, and so on and so forth. Here we joke that we have a metric fridge (which is why it is so tiny), and we have done all that we can to pack as much into it as we can.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
This morning, we created a rolling cat carrier by connecting the large carrier to the frame of our grocery trolley. I walked the dog, who was very excited about the outing, while my husband negotiated the unwieldy carrier on wheels. Part of the challenge was that the carrier would slide off of the frame anytime our larger cat moved from one side to the other.
We don’t have a car, and we wanted to avoid the bus. Hopefully, they are actually cleaning buses now that there is a pandemic. Prior to the lockdown, I always washed my hands and felt like taking a shower after riding on the bus.
The visit to the vet was the same always. Super long wait. Dip in the bank account. We figured we should get the animals that hadn’t already been vaccinated up to speed just in case, though we are fairly certain our window to return to the United States has closed. Our parents have forwarded messages from the state department, urging citizens to either make arrangements to return or be prepared to stay overseas for an indefinite period of time.
With our menagerie of creatures and house full of belongings we were planning on shipping back to the states plus the required time in quarantine, the logistics seem too complicated at this point. If one piece of the puzzle were to fall out of place, I am not sure what we would do. Plus, we would be putting ourselves at risk by traveling which would mean putting our loved ones in the states at risk (e.g., if we go as planned to stay with my husband’s mother in Seattle), and who knows what kind of situation we would be going to. If we went to Seattle as we had been planning for our return at the end of May, we would be entering a high risk area for the virus. Basically, we just keep returning to the idea that it may be safest to stay where we are.
Something fun and positive that I have noticed are decorations people have been putting up in front of their houses. Balloons saying “Bonne promenade” (Have a nice walk), Belgian flags hanging from windows, and a sign saying, “Everything will be alright”. There are also signs of spring everywhere. Birds are singing. Reminders that the world is alive.
I noticed a black cat in a window, watching a crow up on the roof of the house across the street.
We have watched some ridiculous and some hilarious movies. Destination Wedding, which was painful but hilarious. Land of the Lost, ditto.
I am thankful for our four-legged critters, helping us keep perspective and providing endless entertainment. I would prefer that lockdown hadn’t occurred in the midst of our husky blowing his coat, but this global event is a helpful reminder that I am not in control.
Evenings are the same with the addition of the 8pm clapping, cheering, and whistling out the window in support of the paramedics. I add my cheering for the grocery store and pharmacy staff.
Winding down with our evening meditation sit, cuddling with cats, and reading aloud from The Dragons of Pern series.