New York City went into lockdown in the middle of last March – as, of course, did I. My granddaughter found her own apartment and moved away. I suggested to the woman who helps me clean my house that she stay home. I sheltered in place with Guthrie and Dmitri, my cats. It got quieter and quieter. Stressed, I curled up on the couch and hoped my computer would not fail me. In a short time, I began to panic. I have always been comfortable with solitude, but this was too much, especially with no end in sight.
A Mother’s Day visit from my family helped. As did the chance to spend some time with them at a friend’s house in the country. I came back refreshed and comforted by their love and attention and company. And the availability of hugs on demand.
Once Covid hit, I filled my time with reading, learning to Zoom, emailing and talking with family. I did my usual work on Persimmon Tree. Our publisher, Jean Zorn, knowing we were together in our aloneness, urged us to invite readers to contribute their thoughts on this new life; when I was unable to take on that extra challenge, she took over and organized five extra issues. I froze.
I became increasingly unwilling to leave the house or to have anything, including deliveries, come in. Just leave me where and how I was most comfortable: alone on my couch.
Something interesting did happen: On a windowsill in my bedroom, I spotted a mourning dove sitting on a bunch of twigs. I checked, gingerly, a few times a day. Still sitting. One week. Two weeks. The third week I saw the bird fly off and return a minute later. Or was that a different one? Female or male, they not only look alike, they share the work equally. For a split second I was able to see the wee nestlings they had been sheltering. Two days later they were gone, leaving the world’s messiest nest behind.
Once vaccinated, I began to move toward greater engagement with the world.
I met a friend for lunch outdoors. And again the following week. I made appointments with doctors I have needed to visit for more than a year. And I took a bus across town.
I bought another pair of sweatpants for comfort at home. This pair has many pockets; pockets mean I am going outside more, right?
Still haven’t chanced going into a grocery store, but on Friday, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my daughter.