By Ed Breen
Well, the big news around here was that on Saturday afternoon the dog snatched my son-in-law’s roast beef sandwich and ate it. Every bit of it.
And then even bigger news came Sunday: We would be able to pick up our grocery order in the big box parking lot at 6 o’clock Monday evening. Well, actually, between 6 and 7, but you better get there on time. We’ve learned that already, haven’t we, life in this new world with coronavirus.
Then, of course, there was the matter of the cable going out on Friday. No Netflix. No CNN. No nothing for eight or nine hours. Isolation and insulation at the same time. Terrifying for we social beings, we accustomed to driving miles to assemble for something so simple as a cup of coffee in the morning.
And that, friends, is what has become of life as we know it here in the neighborhood.
Someone at Time magazine phrased it nicely in a headline: “We are apart, but we are not alone.”
Now please don’t misunderstand: The agony and death of thousands of people here at home and around the world is tragedy, bordering on apocalypse. None of us have been through anything approaching it and hope to never be again.
So the little inconveniences here in the neighborhood are simply that: Minor disruptions in a life which we continue to live pretty much without incident. Nothing like the wail of sirens on every street in New York or Rome or Madrid. Nothing approaching the horror experienced by doctors and nurses who must select those who shall live from those who shall not.
No, our inconveniences are that and nothing more, played out, however, against a backdrop of dread and anxiety. Fear of the unknown.
Little things. Like awakening and for the first time in my life not knowing what day it was. Detachment caused by sameness, a new experience for those of us up and out every morning. For the first time I had some small insight into the last days and years of my aged mother for whom all days had become the same, without variety and without the interruption of the unexpected or the unusual. Is this Tuesday or Wednesday? I don’t know. In my imposed quarantine they are alike, these Tuesdays and Wednesdays, very much like Monday and Thursday.
I spoke with a friend who reckons the day right now by consulting his pill box. Each day is labeled. If there are pills to be taken, today must be Wednesday because Tuesday is empty.
But this vacates time for those small tasks deferred for the last 20 or 30 years. I am amazed almost daily in trolling Facebook by the number of dog-eared old photographs unearthed by friends from previous lives. Pictures of them. Pictures of us. Photographs with meaning and snapshots that serve only as reminders of how correct Mary Hopkin was when she sang Gene Raskin’s lyric: “Those were the days my friend / We thought they’d never end/ We’d sing and dance forever and a day/ for we were young and sure to have our way.”
The baseball channel – the MLB channel – has nurtured that. No games on the fields right now; may not be until next year and at some time in the distant future some youngster will ask how come there were no games back in 2020. But so many before and after?
Meantime, some of us veg’d and binge-watched all in one day games five, six and seven of the 2016 World Series, including that 17-minute rain delay in Game 7 in Cleveland when Jason Hayward took the Cubs to the locker room and gave ’em what-for and they came out and made the previous 108 years go away, just like that. And old men could die happy because of that.
And I know I shouldn’t say things like that because people are dying right now of COVID-19. But still . . . what a night that was.
And people are house cleaning. Upstairs, downstairs, basement, garages. I know a lady who each year about this time takes each book — and there are many — from her shelves and bangs the covers together to dislodge the dust. She is ahead of schedule this year.
And text messaging has become our new party line. Groups, young and old, spend hours in meaningless messaging because we can.
My personal favorite: A lengthy discussion of the relative merits of an adult beverage called New Glarus Spotted Cow Ale.
And for that alone I shall raise my glass to you and all and promise that we shall get through this not alone, but together. With each other.