Can We Adjust to Life As Normal?

I know the pandemic has a way to go. But I’m a little nervous about the likely changes to our present lifestyle.

For example, I will have to get used to dressing like a normal person. That would be a big change from my present style which could best be termed “athleisure”. It’s true that since I don’t work, I was getting most of my clothes at Costco and sporting goods stores even before the pandemic. All the same, I kind of like my present funky style, especially since board meetings by Zoom only require me to put on a clean shirt.

Lord knows how long we’ll still be wearing masks but at some point they will be a thing of the past. But without masks, this will mean we’ve got to resume some prior habits.

Such as sunblock on nose before walking or cycling.

Not to mention checking to see if we have food stuck to our teeth.

Church? Just turning on YouTube on Sunday mornings saved us lots of time on Sundays. Didn’t have travel, didn’t have to get dressed. Even now, when the capacity limits often allow us to go in person, being there with so few people has made it a more personal experience. We’ll adapt.

Once masks are gone, I will also have to be re-introduced to my electronics. Suburu autos these days have a facial recognition feature that identifies the driver and then adjusts the driver’s seat and mirrors accordingly. But, like my iPhone, my Suburu no longer knows me. When I get in the car the facial recognition software kicks in before I can get my mask off. As a result, I’m no longer “Chuck”, I’m “Driver A”. 

Remember what it was like to eat out? Apart from occasional takeouts, we have eaten far more meals at home than ever before. When you eat out, it’s easy to succumb to temptation and order something fattening, like maybe a burrito or a dessert. Not at home. For some time, our evening meals have long been mostly fresh vegetables plus a protein like chicken or fish. But not every day. 

So, I see lots less healthy eating than in the past is in our future. In addition,  Covid restrictions have freed up lots more time for exercise like walking or cycling in the nearby bosque. As a result, I’ve managed to lose a few pounds. Those pounds will be back soon.

For the last five years, we have lived in an old high-rise condo building downtown where we’ve made a large number of new and fun friends. We’re glad that masks are mandatory when we leave our apartments. But being able to see only the top halves of their faces, it’s much harder to recognize our new friends. Social distancing, a norm here, makes it even harder. After a year, maybe we won’t recognize the uncovered faces.

The end of social distancing also has us concerned. Will we easily break the habit of standing apart? Will we instinctively back up when others enter into our personal space? How long before we will stop hesitating when someone wants to hug or shake hands?

There has been one solid benefit from all this isolation: my guitar playing has greatly improved with all the extra time for practice. I’ve always loved the music of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. But the music from those times requires playing lots of difficult chords like major 7s, ninths, elevenths, flat 13s, etc. etc. Worse, unlike most rock and country songs, chord changes are not one per measure or even two measures. Often there may be two and sometimes three chords to be played in a single measure. 

Yes, I’m still just a hack musician but it’s been so much fun and such a great diversion to study the glorious tunes of the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin etc. And can Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra and others ever deliver those songs!

There is one other unexpected benefit. Without this sounding drippy, my wife JD and I have spent so much more time alone together over the past year than at anytime in our 55 years of marriage. And it has caused up to think about and talk about our original mutual attraction so long ago and marvel that after all these years we still enjoy each others’ company today. I’m sure we’re not the only couple to have this experience. 

All in all, however, many, many have suffered and we’re grateful to be healthy and fully vaccinated. Sometime soon, we’ll be able to be with our older daughter without having to mask up and even to see our younger daughter and granddaughters in St. Louis after more than a year.

Little is more important.

Chuck Wellborn

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