On Tuesday, the 17th of March, I returned home to prepare to work from home for the next 3-5 months. This may sound a bit dramatic but despite the light drizzle that evening, I decided to walk home because my gut told me to memorise that walk.
My 40-minute walks to and from work (weather permitting) were sometimes the highlights of my day. In the mornings, they put me in a great mood before getting to work. In the evenings, they were extra special as I got to pick Shane up on my way home, maybe stopping for groceries, maybe walking into a cozy bar for date night.
I miss getting groceries with my husband. I miss having him mindlessly trailing behind me, with no idea of what we were running out of at home, and what I planned to cook with the ingredients we were buying. I miss standing in the wine aisle with him, taking forever to pick out just the right wine to go with the next movie we were going to watch that evening. I miss rolling my eyes at him every time he magically produced a crisp packet or two at checkout.
We're no longer allowed to shop together. Only one member per family is allowed in our supermarkets at any given time, and considering all the planning we do to limit our time in public spaces, it makes most sense to split up and go to separate grocery stores, checking off items on our shared shopping list and consciously trying to split out the weight of the items in each of our bags. But all of this is like a carefully choreographed dance. I miss the mindlessness of grocery shopping, like being able to forget an ingredient for a recipe and thinking, "oh, we'll just get it tomorrow on our way home from work".
In the past 31 days, I have been more in love with my husband than ever before because I get to spend SO MUCH TIME with him. Knowing that there are thousands of women out there who could say the exact opposite about their quarantine partners breaks my heart. I will never take my lucky situation for granted.
During this lockdown, Shane has even more time to make me laugh constantly at his dry yet goofy sense of humour. He's resourceful, generous, affectionate, flexible, compliant...basically the best teammate I could have asked for to get through these strange times.
And yet, in the past 31-days, there have been times when I've called up my best friend in Milan and grooooaaaaaannned into the phone.
There have been times when I've prepped him for hours saying that we have to go grocery shopping at 5 pm as soon as we're both able to step away from our work laptops. When I've walked him through this choreographed dance to pick out items off of two grocery lists that are ordered based on the layouts of our respective stores. But sometimes, it's close to 6 pm by the time he's able to pull himself away from his computer, and I perfectly understand. I get it, because work is work, and in his position, I'd do the same thing.
But then, when he tells me that he couldn't possibly step out of the house before taking a quick shower, I groan inside. I've been with him long enough to know that there's nothing "quick" about his quick showers so I busy myself with other household chores, knowing that I'd rather have a clean and happy husband than a mopey one wandering the aisles of a grocery store and forgetting to buy something important on his list because he's too mad he didn't get to shower first. It's too risky to not get everything on your grocery list when you're consciously trying to get just enough to survive one week at a time.
So, as soon as he steps out of the shower by 7 pm, I busy myself by putting on my shoes and picking up our shopping bags, visually nagging him to HURRY THE FUCK UP GODDAMMIT, when I see him casually sauntering into our living room.
And I sigh. My shoulders droop. I know what's coming.
Shane needs to get into the right headspace to do a chore. So before shopping, he sometimes needs to open the fridge or our trash bin and stare into them, or run his fingers along our stove top, or scratch at a dried bit of splatter on the kitchen counter. He needs the house to speak to him, the receptacles of the groceries to inspire him to get his lazy ass out the door and fill them up.
I want to say I'm sort of used to it by now but I promise it doesn't get any less annoying with time. Four months ago, I remember sitting in my parents' living room and groaning that my entire life is going to be one long wait for Shane to get out of the house with me.
On this particular day, though, the unthinkable happened. His contemplative eyes drifted from our kitchen counters and cabinet handles and landed on his work desk, positioned almost conveniently close to this scene. He suddenly snapped his head around and asked me what time it was.
"Quarter past 7, Shane, we were meant to get out at 5!", I cried.
"I just remembered", he said calmly as he slid into his armchair, "I have a call with a team in Seattle right now"
Insert scene: Me storming into our bedroom in my jacket, scarf and shoes, still carrying my shopping bags, calling Priyanka and GROOOOOAAAAAANNNNNNNING for a full minute.
It's a testament to our friendship that she just listened to me groan and said, "I know. Let it all out".
Later, when I got to my grocery store, the non-stop apocalyptic central announcement system told me that I had 15 minutes to finish shopping because this store was going to close its doors at 8 pm.
Being strung up for three whole hours (with a mad rush of panic in the last 15 minutes) is an experience I've had a couple of times during this lockdown. Can't remember if something like this ever happened between 1991-2020 BC (Before COVID19).
I know that it's a bit dramatic to say that I memorised my last walk home from work, some 31 days ago. But that walk, in a lot of ways, held together my life and my sanity in the days preceding this lockdown. My new normal may be infinitely more beautiful than it could have been, but if I had to pick, I'd choose those walks and everything that came with them. I'd choose my life exactly as it was BC.