I once wrote a column with the prophetic title, “Someday When I’m Quarantined.” In it, I vowed that if I were ever unable to leave my home for a few months, I’d finally do all of the things I don’t normally have time to do. I’d put my old photos into albums, clean my closets and take up my guitar again, much to the annoyance of anyone quarantined with me.
It was just big talk though, because I never thought it would really happen. But here we are and I’m happy to report that all my closets are now clean, my photos are organized and I’m practicing my guitar for an hour every day. You don’t believe me? I dare you to drop by and check. No. Don’t do that.
But you’re right. I’m a couple of weeks into social distancing, and my closets are a mess. I don’t even know where my box of photos is, and I gave my guitar away a few months ago out of consideration for my husband. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks, it’s that a full calendar wasn’t the only thing keeping me from putting my photos in albums.
Still, I feel like I’m handling this crisis fairly well. I’d go so far as to say social distancing and sheltering in place are two of my talents. Some people can sing. Others can paint. I can shelter in place.
I’m an introverted writer who’s used to working from home. Growing up in rural America taught me to keep my pantry well-stocked even when there’s not an epidemic. And I lived through many South Dakota blizzards in a three-bedroom home with nine siblings. Hunkering down with my husband, my cat and my canary is easy for me, though I can’t speak for them.
I hope things are going as smoothly for you and the people you love—or used to love. It would be a shame to survive the pandemic only to have your spouse divorce you and your children run away from home after it’s all over.
When you must stay home, and mostly you must, my advice is to have a really big house. I’m joking! If you’re like me, this crisis has reminded you what’s truly important in life: family, health and toilet paper.
When it comes to family, I think we should all see this as an opportunity to bond, so bond away for as long as you’re on speaking terms. Sit down at the dinner table with the family you rarely saw before COVID-19. Play board games, have movie nights and spend time in meaningful conversations. And when the conversations cease to be meaningful, you can all take out your phones and stare at them. You know, like you did before the pandemic.
Maybe you live alone and don’t have anyone to grow to despise during all this forced togetherness. I recommend you take full advantage of social media. There are plenty of people on Facebook and Twitter who can get on your nerves.
If you’re struggling with boredom, follow the example set by spammers and scammers who all seem to be working very hard from home these days. Stay busy. Trust me. Someday you’ll wish you’d cleaned your closets when you had the chance. I know I will.
Finally, it helps to have an attitude of gratitude. As for me, I’m grateful I’m not essential personnel and that one of the best ways I can help is by staying out of the way. I’m doing good by doing less. How often can you say that?
My husband is counting his blessings too. He’s thankful that we’re both healthy, that we have adequate supplies and that I gave away my guitar.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact [email protected])
Someday when I’m social distancing, I’ll clean out those closets