Hollie Grimaldi Flores: COVID positive
We are moving ever closer to that one-year anniversary of that two-week shutdown we all found ourselves in last March. As the weeks turned to months, I clearly remember weeping while removing events and obligations from my calendar. Like many, I made the necessary adjustments and discovered alternatives for socializing, got online to make meetings and complete work, discovered takeout as a regular means of meal planning. Like many, I lamented over all that was lost in personal freedom, mourned for those who succumbed to the virus or lost family members, remained hopeful and took the recommended safety measures to protect others. And frankly, I spent a lot of time whining about this new way of living – our “new normal.”
But now, after so many months of modifying behaviors (and expectations), I have also found some unexpected positives to come from some of the restrictions forced upon us in the name of protecting ourselves and others from this virus. I first noticed it during the holidays — the feeling that I was resting! Resting? During the holidays? That certainly felt like a misnomer, but the sense of rest has continued. Without places to go, and people to see, the new normal includes spending a lot of time at home.
All this staying at home time also means a lower inclination to indulge in bad habits and we are saving money. The amount spent on alcohol alone, cut to shreds. (I guess the opposite could be true but most of the people I talk with report a reduction.) While there is a concerted effort to support local restaurants by ordering take out or eating al fresco when it’s tolerable, overall, the number of nights spent cooking at home has increased among most of the people I know – myself included. That, in turn, became a positive as I discovered a fondness for cooking and baking – skills I had put to rest a few years (or more) ago. I just had a longtime friend tell me he had no idea I even knew how to cook at all. My favorite thing to make for dinner has always been reservations, but over these past few months I have found relaxation and satisfaction in the kitchen. Who would have guessed?
Nonprofits have had get to get creative to keep us engaged and supportive of their cause. My friends and I recently discussed how happy we are to have the opportunity to attend a drive-in movie and the joy of watching entries of the environmental film festival from the comfort of our living rooms over the course of several days. A writer’s group secured nationally renowned speakers for their event that would have been out of their budget had they also needed to pay for flight, hotel, meals, and other common expenses associated with bringing a keynote to an event. And their potential market is without borders.
The internet and Zoom have opened the world to classes and meetings, seminars, concerts, and stage productions. “Face time” gives us all a greater sense of being present with the convenience of logging in from home or wherever we find ourselves. We are taking classes with people who live across the country and across the planet. We are learning, mostly by example, how to behave while taking part with others in these experiences, to be aware of our backgrounds and to turn off our cameras and microphones when distracted by others, and even that has become a source of entertainment when failures to comply are captured and shared. We all now know to leave the laptop closed when using the facilities and to remove filters before showing up for (virtual) court! (Search “I am not a cat” for more insight.)
I polled friends about other positive outcomes to embrace during this pandemic and several mentioned the fact that their kids are doing remarkably well with distance learning. The introverts and wall flowers are excelling without social pressure! And families are certainly spending more time together. With limited access to the mix and mingle, there are more opportunities for quality time. They established game nights, have become jigsaw puzzle aficionados and are more in tune with the day-to-day lives of their teens.
A few also mentioned the amount of money they have saved on makeup and other grooming products. No lipstick required under a mask!
Celebrations of holidays, birthdays and anniversaries have become more intimate by necessity. Keeping gatherings small has made them more meaningful. At Christmas, my brother and his family drove several hours to meet briefly on an exit off the freeway to exchange gifts, took them home and opened them all together over Zoom. Everyone was able to share in the excitement without risking their health or the health of their loved ones, and they took the time to see what each person received. While they were not in the same room, they were conversing one at a time (the biggest challenge of video gatherings) and were able to be present while opening presents! Reactions in real time!
Arguably, Zoom (and like platforms) has made the biggest impact in our ability to connect, work, play, and cope while staying safe in our limited “pods.” This has been the biggest of all the COVID positives. I have regular meet ups with people I did not see for years at a time. The occasional phone call or trip usurped with semi-regular visits over the world wide web. Video messages from lifelong friends delivered during my recent birthday celebration are priceless and I will have them with me long after this pandemic is part of our past, all because of COVID.
The end of this pandemic can not come soon enough, but while we are still in it, I for one, am going to focus on that which is COVID positive. I encourage you to find your COVID positives too. It makes it all just a little easier to get through, until we meet again.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@ gmail.com.
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