by PAUL WCISEL, 04/21/2020, Traverse City, MI
What day is it? They all start to feel the same. An absence of routine. You believe you will use the time wisely—addressing neglected projects around the house, delving into a hobby you always considered a true passion, getting to that book you’ve been meaning to read, or write—but you don’t. After all, there’s going to be time tomorrow.
There will be daily walks, even when it is April, and snowing, and the wind is blowing off the lake. You’ll investigate alleyways simply because you have never walked them before. Look at that garage. It’s bigger than our house. At least the exercise makes it feel like you’ve accomplished something. Long forgotten hand weights, the ones beneath the shoes, pushed to the back of the closet, will be used occasionally, but let’s face it—they’re no substitute for the gym.
Excursions to grocery stores become exciting scavenger hunts. Don’t even think about finding hand sanitizer. Just don’t. After a few weeks, some semblance of normalcy returns to the aisle dedicated to toilet paper and tissue. But now there are no english muffins, at least not the good kind. Turns out whole wheat raisin isn’t popular. Neither are those cans of diced tomatoes with the off-putting spices added to them.
All the while the soundtrack of WNMC, 90.7 FM, plays in the background like some parallel undercurrent from Twin Peaks. Quirky musical program hours and strange afternoon jazz emanates from the radio in the kitchen. It’s also playing in the car when we take the dog to the park, slowly cruising the central neighborhood with the windows down, avoiding winter’s potholes—except for Pine Street, which got resurfaced last summer. Even in Oryana, the speakers broadcast the playlist above the rows of organic produce and local products. It’s a continuous loop of oddly appropriate songs for this semi-ghost town atmosphere.
Of course liquor is an essential item. It’s 5:00pm. And hey, I’m not going into the office tomorrow! It becomes a routine that is constant for many. If the weather cooperates, the drinking might take place outside. Sometimes, it’s a virtual happy hour(s) in front of a laptop, video chatting with distant friends. These virtual parties can almost seem real, especially the following morning, the fuzzy recollection of conversations resurfacing over coffee. But usually the cocktail hour precedes a fantastic dinner.
The kitchen is now the local bar, restaurant, and laboratory. You’re cooking meals with detail, nuance, and attention to ingredients. New recipes are conquered. Who knew cooked cabbage could taste so wonderful? Fish pie—what the hell is that? Damn delicious. Move over, Bobby Flay. We have a new Iron Chef in the making. Why, you’re even baking. Did you need a few dozen chocolate chip cookies in the house? No. Nevertheless, here they are.
I wonder what we can dial up on Netflix or Amazon? The news is a downer to watch. People have lost their income, their savings, their homes, their business, their minds. For some, even their lives. The chasm between the haves and have-nots is growing. At least Mother Earth and the environment are doing tremendously well.
Thank goodness one of us is employed.