This is the final story in this series. When it started, I don’t think any of us thought living behind the closed door would extend this long. The intent was to share stories of folks in our community and how the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders impacted us. The first nine stories brought you the perspective of a diverse group of community members. We’ve heard from graduating high school seniors and college students. We’ve heard from folks in at risk categories. From essential workers, retirees, individuals with employment reduced or eliminated. We heard from a teacher, a religious leader and a member of our LGBTQ+ community. So, wrapping up this series, I’m sharing my story.
Financially, impact has been minimal. Retired, I had a pension and social security benefits. I didn’t have to worry about meeting day-to-day expenses. Like many of you, I held my breath each month when the retirement fund statement arrived. It took significant hits, but I am not reliant on them yet. In time those investments should recover. I didn’t need them now. So, I was privileged to have a financial security that many others don’t have.
Belonging to a high at-risk category by age; there are no significant underlying medical problems currently. Part of the Community Voice news team, I’m classified as an essential worker. I can be out of my home for work. However, much of my work has been done from home, online and on the phone. Thus, my third career as a writer continued. I learned how to use online tools like Zoom and attend a wide variety of virtual meetings. These ranged from school board or city council meetings professionally, to church services, medical appointments and community support groups personally. Doing so allowed me the ability to manage my shelter-in-place feelings and emotions. This was also a privilege not all had available.
Fortunately, I had a pre-existing network of friends online. Whether playing online games or just hanging out on the internet in our chat rooms, I had the ability to ward off loneliness or feeling isolated. There was an existing social circle of friends in the local area as well as family. Frequent texts, instant messages and phone calls helped. Not a day went by that multiple folks didn’t reach out to check on me, and me on them. Like most, I certainly missed the human touch and the in-person get togethers. Like many, I hope that soon, some of those can again occur, in a safe and responsible way as we slowly reopen.
I appreciate our essential workers, at the grocery store or other businesses. Their work made sure we could stay at home safely. Getting mail and online orders delivered was often the highlight of my day. A socially responsible walk was a joy. The sunshine felt great. Every Friday, I looked forward to my hard copy of the Community Voice newspaper. Sharing the pictures to color with my young next-door neighbor was delightful. Having her knock on my door and give me her drawings to hang them on my refrigerator was priceless. Helping a family member with online efforts or taking an elderly neighbor to do her essential shopping made me feel useful.
Days were slower and seemed to crawl by. There was just enough going on each day to look forward to. Music, reading, posting or writing, chats, and cleaning filled in the gaps. Self-care continued although sometimes I was grumpy or frustrated by little things. Sleeping patterns changed. Hard to go to sleep, with little motivation to get up and get going. Like many, boredom eating increased and thus struggles with weight gain exist. Increased caffeine and alcohol didn’t help either. Yet there are silver linings. Some casual relationships grew deeper. New friends were made locally and nationally. I was amazed how many folks have reached out to me to make sure I’m okay. I’m not sure how things will be when the closed door opens, but I’m optimistic that things will be better if slightly different. I’m glad to live in this community. I’ve found it offers many wonderful things that I either took for granted or failed to notice.
For all the voices that shared their stories with me, and then with you; my thanks for doing so. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series over the last ten weeks. I look forward to bringing you many more stories about our community in the future.