This is the fourth installment of my COVID-19 confinement: A Summer of Change
During the 20 years that I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon, the summer months are what I look forward to the most. This is usually when Eric (the hubster) and I take a short break from the sometimes crazy work-hustle and head up north to Vancouver, British Columbia in celebration of my birthday. We love it there. The city has some amazing modern architecture, great museums, and a food scene that rivals Portland. We’ve been fortunate to travel there enough times, that we have friends we look forward to seeing each year. The main reason we go to Vancouver is for the International Fireworks Competition or as it is more commonly known, the Honda Celebration of Light on English Bay.
Wow, what a difference a year makes! I am officially calling this summer season, Pandemicpalooza: a season of experimentation, discovery, and self-contemplation.
With an apparent endless selection of shows on the various streaming services, I have been discovering new shows and revisiting some old favorites. Shows such as Space 1999, Bewitched, Carol Burnett Show and Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter (Big Crush: I had her poster on my wall) have been fun to watch again on our new television. The colors of the old shows being rebroadcast on the new television in their vivid splendor. Classic cinema has also been on the viewing menu. I had never previously seen David Bowie’s “Man Who Fell to Earth”. It was one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. The movie was only 2 hours and 30 minutes long, but it felt much longer. Being the 70s, I think there must have been drugs involved when they made this movie because when the movie was over, Eric and I looked at each other and said, WTF?! Barbarella was the next classic I watched. It featured a very young Jane Fonda. I just couldn’t finish watching the whole thing. It was just a little too, ah wacky, for my present day mind.
I’m grateful that here in Oregon, we are able to gather again (small groups), even in a socially distanced capacity. We still aren’t able to enjoy some of Portland’s great restaurants right now, so I’ve been experimenting with recipes I’ve been collecting from the New York Times. During my Pandemicpalooza, I imagine that I’m the chef of “Judge’s Kitchen” where Eric is happily my culinary guinea pig and number one patron. Actually, we are lucky to have a great outdoor space that we created and can safely invite friends over as a single or a couple, to an al fresco (open air) dining experience. This makes me smile. I have really missed spending time with our friends and as a Leo, I’m a social creature. It hasn’t been easy.
The binge-watching and cooking have really been a coping mechanism. The truth is, I have been in a battle with demons; not anything that requires an exorcism, but the ones my conscience produces. I’m weak and spiritually fatigued. The demons whisper in my ear, “Go ahead and have that extra drink”. In my head, ” I respond, but it’s only Monday and I still have to work (from home) tomorrow”. Or, “I know it’s not a good idea to eat this party size bag of potato chips”, I say to myself. Then I hear the whisper, “Of course your can, you can always run to the store to replace them before Eric gets home”. So as these months of the COVID crisis continuously creep on, I catch my naked reflection in the mirror and realize… damn, “it” happened. The consumption of copious COVID calories have changed me, and not in a good way. It’s not too the point of having to buy new elastic band shorts, but there’s now a little more jiggle in my wiggle than I am personally comfortable with. Eric tells me that when I gain weight, I gain it all over. This isn’t helpful. I’m not body shaming (or hating) on myself (or anyone else) but I have to keep my weight in check for my health. You see, both of my parents have issues related to high blood pressure and diabetes. So this makes me a strong contender for these issues as well. Let’s not forget that I’m also Black and getting closer to being a senior citizen, which increases the chances even more.
Our current situation still makes me moody, but things appear to be adapting and evolving to create a sense of normalcy again. For example, recently my gym opened again with social distancing, additional cleaning, and reduced capacity implemented. You have to make a reservation now and masks are required to be worn by members at all times (state law) including during workouts. It has been great. Though I’ve had to ask a few ladies to wear their masks on their face and not their chins. One woman (White) even told me that she can’t breathe while doing cardio. My response served with an eye roll, “Those are famous last words,” but it’s what we have to do! I don’t think she really understood the context of her words as she was addressing a Black man. You might be thinking that the gym staff should be responsible to say something or patrol the premises for those rebel non-conforming members. They actually make announcements and remind members about properly wearing their masks as well.
I miss seeing someone’s whole face, a smile, and hearing unmuffled laughter. I know that you can still see a person’s eyes light up with excitement or disdain above their mask but it’s just not the same. That said, I am enjoying the creativity of some mask designs that have been covering faces. I’ve even been complimenting people on their masks as if they had on a cool pair of fancy shoes or a nice haircut. Besides, who doesn’t like to receive a compliment, right? So why not have a little fun while we suffer through this pandemic? With so much doom and gloom happening around us, I think we often forget that laughter is an important and healthy part of life. I’ll admit, it has been hard to laugh lately. I feel like the pandemic has forced us to lose our humanity and common sense, especially by those folks who refuse to take our national and global health seriously.
The pandemic has changed me. It has changed us all. It has exposed the health disparities and inequity for Black, Brown, and Indeginous communities. Even when there is a vaccine ready for distribution to the masses, who will be first to receive it? If, when, we’re able to travel abroad again, will we also have to provide proof of being vaccinated in order to board a flight and gain safe entry to foriegn lands?
I want to know what the plan is, and we should know what to expect next. It’s not like we don’t have other things going on demanding our attention at the moment!