Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Our Quarantine: The First 90 Days

We're about 90 days into quarantine at the writing of this piece.

My partner and I just completed our school year, which was quite an adventure, though I have learned this about myself:  I like working at home. I have the discipline to be successful at it.  I also feel like just the act of losing the commute has given me custody of more of my time: the most precious commodity to me.  The time gained has allowed us to exercise more, sleep more, and eat better.  In fact, my partner has finally perfected a cookie recipe she's been working on, in addition to hand-rolled pasta: linguine, ravioli, etc.

This unplanned slow down has had several side effects in my life.

This first is lost income.When "in the building," teachers have the ability to earn extra money by running after school programs, clubs, coaching, directing, or scoring exams.  All of those things were cancelled when school went remote.  I lost hours at my seasonal side job due to lack of people coming in due to the pandemic.  We've also lost rental income.  We've both kept our regular paychecks, and I realize how lucky that makes us.  We're still able to save money, although at a diminished rate compared to what it was before.  Many people aren't as lucky as we've been.  I completely recognize that.  Sometimes I feel completely redundant, but the fact that our lives are budgeted more or less to one income means that we have a significant amount of wiggle room if something crazy like this happens.

I've also realized that paying the extra fee for grocery delivery is worth it.  Amazon finally gave us "permission to shop" at both Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods.  We pay a delivery fee plus tip for the service, but honestly, it's worth it.  We only order every two weeks or so for items we cannot find at our local farmer's market or our local tiny gourmet grocery.  I don't think we're paying any more or less than before, but we're being more deliberate.  While I realize we're contributing to the huge corporation that is Amazon, we're also focusing the bulk of our shopping on the farmer's market, and I value the higher quality I receive from Whole Foods versus my local chain grocery.  I also value organics and not needing to physically go to the store.  I used to physically go to two separate stores EVERY weekend plus the farmer's market run.  That's a lot of running around that I don't miss.  I think this is a habit that will remain in our lives.

I am lucky enough to do some acting every Spring in a play festival, which I truly love.  I was very nervous that it had been cancelled this year, but the directorial staff of the production company was brilliant enough to re-imagine it as a series of radio plays that would be published via podcast.  While the stipend for this work was modest, the creation of art itself brought tremendous joy to me.  This is tremendously different from how I felt with the loss of my side job.  After my seasonal side job came to an end, I realized that I was thrilled to have my time back, and that it was costing me way more hours that the money was worth.  I think that's something the Covid quarantine has done for me.  It has make me realize how much I value my time.  I find myself evaluating things in my life according to a very different currency.  How much of my time will this task take me?  Do I value the task enough to spend my time doing it?  During the past 90 days, I have spent really very little time doing things I simply don't like.  I have been back to the basics.  For me, those things are: healthy living, learning, art, and relationships.

I've been going on hikes every day.  We've always cooked at home, but we've been taking our time, and really enjoying the creation of home cooked meals.  I've had more virtual happy hours and phone calls with loved ones that I had before.  We're not in person, but connecting more deliberately.  I want to carry those habits forward.  Also, I need more art in my life, and I'm willing to evict a few things in order to make that happen.

Have you been finding yourself evaluating life through the lens of this currency called "time?"  What habits or changes are you likely to carry into your future as a result of your experience during Covid? What have you learned about what you value?

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