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Love in the Time of Corona

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
–From Blossoms by Li Young Lee

Love in the Time of Corona

The happiest days of my entire life have been during the global pandemic known as Corona. For starters, I haven’t died, and nobody I love has died. There are days when I’m relieved that my parents have already died. That way I don’t have to worry about them dying on ventilators alone in hospital rooms. I couldn’t bear it. Except when it happens to you, you do bear it. You have no choice, just as I had no choice but to bear the long and drawn out dying of my parents. First, my dad, from Alzheimer’s and next, my mom, from heart disease.

Suffice to say, my heart breaks for everyone who has endured loss at the hands of a virus that pranced over some and obliterated others.

The New Collective Nightmares

Like everyone, I’m a little nervous about the future, particularly next flu season. After all, how long can we dodge this beast? Our collective nightmares are filled with conveyor belts, keypads, doorknobs, and service counters. And, that’s not all. A simple trip to the grocery store for milk, eggs, bread, and produce, can create compulsive worry, sickness, death. Did I wipe everything down? Did I wipe down my wipe-downs? Do I need to wash the soap?

Seriously…

The other day I went to Wal-Mart and when I got in the car I grabbed the steering wheel with my germed-up rubber gloves. I quickly pulled them off and then touched the steering wheel AGAIN possibly transferring whatever may have been on the gloves to my hands! Also, while in the grocery store, I reached under my face mask to scratch a tickle on my face. I did this with my rubber-gloved hand that had basically touched everything in the store. OMG. Are you kidding me? Who can live like this?

And Then A Gigantic Opossum Strolled By

Nevertheless, beyond this insanity, life for me during the pandemic has been happy. Perhaps it is, as Professor Megan Gerhardt, Miami University, wrote in her viral piece, Coronavirus quarantine? Gen X was made for this. Boomers and Gen Z, not so much:

When it comes to Generation X, the formative experiences…have indeed positioned us well for our present reality of sheltering in place. Still, our current life stage also gives us increased motivation to be role models for staying home…”

I have definitely enjoyed mostly every second at home with my family. I’m especially grateful for all the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my 1-year-old granddaughter Willow. There have been other blessings, too. For example, I live near a large employment hub about a mile from a busy highway. During life before Corona, the hum of traffic began around 5 a.m. and steadily increased as the day wore on. But, during shelter-in-place, it’s been gone, mirroring in some measure the ever so brief solitude families in the Heartland experience during storm season. When the tornados spin up we all hunker down and hold each other close and listen. 

During the pandemic, the mornings have been so quiet, I can hear dozens of birds singing. The decrease in traffic has also improved local air quality. At the same time, increased activity in neighborhoods has disrupted urban wildlife. I was doing yard work the other day when a gigantic opossum strolled by. He continued at a leisurely gait all the way down the street.

I’m going to miss all this and I feel a sense of dread as the Heartland prepares for a soft opening.

Like, This Never Happens

Without a doubt, Corona has given Americans a break from rampant consumerism. Like, this never happens.We’ve been exhausted for years, and the only way we were ever going to get a break was through a global pandemic. How sad is that? For, as the poet Li Young Lee reminds us in his seminal work, From Blossoms, death is always in the background. The pandemic moved it to the foreground. Horrible tragedies in Asia, Europe, and North America notwithstanding, I have lived joy to joy, blossom to blossom, for weeks.

I’m going to remember this time forever. For the first time in years, I’ve gotten plenty of sleep and had time for silly TV shows like Nailed It. The kids and I spent a few days baking and decorating cakes. While nobody should quit their day job, we had a blast. There have also been endless days of homecooked meals and new books. I burned through Melanie Shankle’s On The Bright Side in no time flat. Love her and her blog.

I am now reading Jen Hatmaker’s new book Fierce, Free and Full of Fire. During chapter 4, I cried on my bed, tears streaming into my ears.

I Even Bathed A Doll

To everyone’s delight, we cooked s’mores around a backyard campfire. I’ve even subjected myself to a few board games. Heck, I organized 75 bins in the basement (total bliss) and in the process found my Fisher-Price My Friend Jenny Doll. She was a gift from my father during the Christmas of 1975. I promptly restored her to her previous glory and gave her to Willow.

In summary, for the first time in my adult life, I bathed a doll, washed and rolled her hair, and put it in ponytails. Life has never given me an opportunity like this, lol, not even when I was a young mother with young children. Apart from this, Jenny (who might be named Mary in real life) was quite happy to get the salon treatment after more than 40 years.

A gentle scrub. It’s love in the time of corona.

a doll gets a shampoo hair washa doll with wet hair Fisher Price My Jenny Dolla doll with rollers in her hair
Fisher Price My Jenny Doll - With Ponytails

Finally, during Corona, scores of people, most of whom I’ve never seen, have poured out of their houses and onto the streets of our neighborhood. Children have crowded the sidewalks with their scooters and bikes, both day and night. Efforts to comply with social distancing haven’t blinded me to the relief on the faces of virtually everyone. Oh, sweet love in the time of Corona. And, I can’t help but say it: I wish we could live like this forever, sans the deadly virus, of course.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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11 Comments

  1. TR

    Oh Jen! Thanks for this! Aside from the virus, this “situation” has been an introverts dream. Agree on the sleep, the books, quiet walks in empty parks, the vibrative hum that quieted to a whisper. I worry about getting sucked back into that vortex of noise and movement when this finally ends.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      TR! You’re here!! I worry about that, too. I don’t want to get sucked back in. Do you think there’s a way to avoid it? It’s so good to hear from you. I have been thinking about you so much.

      Reply
  2. Mailoc

    Time to recover what should be the foundation of society: the family. Learn what or who supports certain structures and rules, what ways there are to escape their rhetoric and silent slavery. The human mind is a divine gift and plunging it into endless anxiety, financial fear and a monetarist approach is a matter of a fallen servant. Some things happen because they appear to be a daily routine, others seem like an unexpected major misfortune; There is a script, with freedom of interpretation, but it surely leads to a well-defined place.

    Thank you for stoking the idea I had of American Generation X as a child.

    May Jesus bless you and your whole family.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thank you so much. I absolutely love this line you wrote, “The human mind is a divine gift and plunging it into endless anxiety…is a matter of a fallen servant.” I’ve been there too long. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a thought-provoking comment. I appreciate it. God bless you, too.

      Reply
  3. Jenn

    While I am not feeling the same about SAH, I enjoyed the my friend Jenny doll. She really is Jenny because I also got her somewhere around 75 for Christmas which would make me 4 and tracks and my parents used that name for her. Her little smile brought back nice memories.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I could have sworn her box said Jenny. It’s why my dad bought her. And, yet, in all my research the blonde doll with the red gingham dress is named Mary. I know I am not imagining that the box said JENNY! =) Thanks for helping clear it up for me. I hope you’re doing OK through this present madness.

      Reply
  4. Elissa Christmas

    Oh, gosh! I am an alum of Miami University, married to another alum, and I’ve worked there for 21 years, and it took your blog for me to see that great piece from one of our professors. How funny! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Are you serious? That is so cool, Elissa. Great to hear from you!

      Reply
  5. Michelle Stepp

    Nailed exactly how I feel. So cool the things you’ve been doing and I really like the accompanying pics of your doll!

    How sad is that that it takes a pandemic for our air to clear, to relax more, to take more walks, ride bikes, spend more time with loved ones? Ive been saying for God knows how long that, although I appreciate being born in this country, American society with its consumerism and constant push forward to achieve and be productive all while getting as little sleep as possible is incredibly unhealthy.

    Ive often felt like I was born in the wrong place because relaxing, spending time with family and community have always been more (or at least just as) important to me as any of those things-maybe because I lost a daughter (my first child) young which can give a person quite a different perspective.

    The time we have is limited and only the good Lord knows when it is done. I don’t remember where the quote came from but theres one that says something along the lines of that when you die you won’t be wishing you had worked more hours but that you spent more time with those you love. I’ve been blessed to be able to put that into practice for 20 years now. Things have been real tough at times but I am beyond grateful to be with and homeschool my boys. So this pandemic has been much of our regular routine. However my heart truly goes out to & prays for those who are sick, hurting or having to deal with losing a loved one. My overriding prayer is that we as a nation all learn &focus more on the people and things that matter most in life. Blessings.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Hi Michelle – Thank you for your beautiful note. I appreciate it so much. I cannot imagine losing a child and can imagine that it would change many things. Like you said – our time is limited. I pray I have the courage to make better decisions with whatever time I have left. I also feel like I was born in the wrong time and place, sometimes. As I walk the streets of my neighborhood and see people enjoying themselves I imagine this is what it was like at some point and time in America. Those days are gone, and I truly hate the rat race. Someone finally stopped the train and I got to get off of it – for awhile. God bless you!

      Reply
      • Michelle

        It already sounds like you have the courage and are making better decisions with the time you have lately.
        Yeah that feeling of being born in the wrong time and/or place is wild. But at least we’re not alone in feeling that way 🙂
        It is sad those days seem to be gone but at least we’re blessed enough to be seeing a glimpse of it and who knows? Like I said maybe there will be a priority shift to some degree in this country after all is said and done with this pandemic.
        Thank you for your response & God bless you too!

        Reply

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