SLICE OF LIFE: Preparing for ‘new normal’

By JACQUI HERSHBERGER

For the Gazette & News

Well, the Stay-At-Home order has been extended to May 29, 2020. Not that I’m that surprised, really.

Does anyone else feel like you end up being busy with random tasks? Today, (is it Friday or Thursday?) I shop vac’d the van and cleaned it, inside and out. I haven’t driven it since — maybe a week or two ago?

Driving gives one such a sense of freedom! You get to see all the sites you normally took for granted, and go by all the places you used to go multiple times a day. A local friend confided that the last time she drove, she took the long way home. When their family went out on an essential trip, they beeped their horn at our house as they went by, and at houses of other people they knew, and even at random people they didn’t know who were out walking! I, personally, have this small fear that I may forget how to drive, and I admit to also driving for longer or slower than I used to.

I’ve cleaned, decluttered, read books, balanced my checkbook. In some ways, it’s a relief. It’s nice to know that we aren’t just—BAM! going back into society. But, in many other ways, the novelty has worn off. We have developed new normals.

For our family, the highlight will be May 13 when MCC Connections, according to their Facebook page, will reopen with hours Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shoppers at risk/and or age 65+ can go 9-10 a.m. Donations will be accepted starting May 11 on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. My oldest has wanted to go there since the shutdown.

I wonder if styles will change and become less fussy and more utilitarian? I vote for pockets in all yoga pants and jeans that you can work in. I tried on a pair of my jeans today to clean out the van and I realized I couldn’t bend my knees in their skin-tightness. I breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled on my fleece yoga pants. Surely, it’s not because I’ve maybe gained a couple pounds in this whole lock-down?

But, when we go to MCC Connections, or whatever retail store, won’t it be different? It will be strange (although, maybe we will have come to terms with this) to wear a mask while trying on clothes. To social distance in Marshalls. To stand outside and wait to be let in until someone comes out. Of course, it would be strange to just go directly back to the good ol’ pre-Corona days (B.C. as my son calls it).

It’s been great to see how area businesses have been helping. Hopefully the cots and masks will never have to all be used. I had a passing day or two when I thought our family should make large quantities of masks. My husband tells me I always try to turn everything into a production! Well, let’s just talk a bit about how that went. We got out my oldest daughter’s sewing machine, the cutting mat, the sewing box, the ironing board, the iron, and the box of random fabrics brought down from the attic from my other sewing endeavors. We set up shop on the same table where we eat, do school, and set the mail from the mailbox–which is one of the most exciting times of the day! (Do any other families have fights about who gets to get the mail?)

We made a total of 10 masks with fabric ties since we didn’t have elastic. My youngest girl ironed, I cut, my oldest sewed. Folks, two days of sewing and using the table to eat, etc. was our max. The disappointing part was that the fabric I chose was, let’s face it, ugly. It was going to be the prototype. But, by the end, none of us had it in us to make more. So, I gave in and bought two from Etsy. Plain white ones with elastic instead of ties, which are much easier to put on an off for quick shopping trips.

Another month of staying at home. Sigh. It’s not like we went out THAT much—well, actually we kind of did. Middle school track was going to start, which would’ve meant a daily afternoon drive on 94 to the school, and track meets. I had a membership at the Massillon Rec Center. We ate out a couple times a month. This is all now non-existent or almost completely diminished.

What do I look forward to doing again? What will you look forward to doing? I’ll look forward to spending time at Dalton Hair Designs for a haircut, getting hugs from my parents, going to the library, and swimming with my kids at my aunt’s pool, or any public pool. Will these things be open by June? We don’t know yet, but I hope so!

Several people in the obituaries have now been listed as dying of coronavirus complications. That makes me realize that we are staying at home for a reason—to help protect others. Even if I’m not making masks or cots, if I’m staying home, I’m helping others. If I wear a mask, I’m protecting others in case I’m a carrier. If I stay 6 feet away, I’m helping the disease to not spread.

So, while we are in another month of this stay-at-home order, let’s all clean our belongings, organize our stuff, find new hobbies, do our essential outings, and pray the weather warms up. Maybe —just maybe — I’ll consider letting my middle school daughter learn a new skill —how to cut my hair. Stay safe, Dalton and Kidron — and beyond!

Jacqui Hershberger is a mom of three who grew up in Kidron and lives in Sugar Creek Township.

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