Dear Fred, In all fairness, future reporter Fred, I was hopeful that by this point I would no longer be writing to you there in 2120 about how people are doing here in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is not that I don’t enjoy thie one-sided correspondence, but that, like many other people, I am beginning to chafe at how long this has been going on and can’t wait for it to be over.
I am sure your editor should be pleased with the amount of content I have spoon-fed you over the past few weeks and am confident you will do a good job sharing the story of this unusual time in our community’s and country’s life.
One of the biggest takeaways I have gotten from experiencing the safer at home restrictions is just how overscheduled our normal lives have become. I don’t know what it is like there 100 years from now, but it seemed there were at least three or four things each day that we “had” to do.
To be fair, many of these things were social engagements, leagues and civic organizations. Every weekend would have seen an event or two, and there would be sports every night of the week on some level. Those of us with children would often find ourselves pulled into 17 directions at once serving as chauffeur and mobile automated teller machine to various youth events.
The efforts to slow the spread of the virus turned the switch on all those extras. Forcibly clearing all of our collective calendars of everything that was non-essential.
Suddenly we had time to catch up on those projects we had been delaying around our homes. Not to mention that with nothing to distract us we have had to communicate with our families and friends.
Rather than brief text mesages about what take-out food people want at the drive-thru, families have the time to talk around the dinner table. With people encouraged to make fewer trips to the grocery store, there is more time spent on meal planning and people discovering lost talents for cooking and baking.
I don’t mean to suggest that is has been all roses and sunshine. There has been plenty of tension and arguments. While it takes pressure to make coal into diamonds, some just don’t have the internal structural strength and crumble. Divorce attorneys and marriage counselors will likely have waiting lists for clients after this is all over with.
On a personal level, the safer at home regulations have actually made me become closer to my brothers and sisters despite being a half a continent away from any of them.
Most of my family is based in the greater Philadelphia area and in southern New Jersey. They are under much tighter restrictions than here in rural Wisconsin given the density of the population.
My family maintains a group text that was initially set up to accomodate our morbid contest to be the first one to share word of the death of famous people. There is an elaborate point system in place along with rules about what makes a person famous — they have to be famous in their own right and not simply related to or married to someone famous.
With most of my family forced to stay at home as their workplaces shut down they have taken to filling our text messages with awful jokes, humous memes and the occasional political rant about the proper use of cleaning supplies.
It has also allowed us to organize a weekly game night. For the past few weeks we have been using Zoom to gather virtually and play party games on Friday nights. It has actually become one of the high points of our week and something we all look forward to doing. It is weird, that I am seeing more of my family that is far away, then before the pandemic. It would have been nearly impossible to plan such an activity with everyone’s schedules.
There will be many takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us hope that the renewed focus on our relationships and our families stays with us. It is important to savor every moment with your loved ones, because who knows when you will no longer be able to.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.