We can all recall the unmistakable voice of Carly Simon singing her hit, “Anticipation.” She broke the word down into syllables for us, drawing the word out for maximum effect. I have a rhyming word that repeats in my ear every day and that word is dis-in-te-gra-tion. It pretty much sums up where my life is right now.
Everyone has a favorite word that they would use to describe the past year and let me say here and now that I won’t judge you if your word is profane in the extreme. It seems that 2020 deserves the miserable reputation it has earned and we’ll be hearing about it for a long, long time.
For me it has been a year of firsts. No, I’m not talking about the ordinary everyday firsts we all experience on our journeys through life, things like our first successful ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro, our first perfect score of 10 on the balance beam, our debut on stage at La Scala in Milan, or completing a triple salchow on Olympic ice. I’m referring to the really big stuff, like leaving the safety of home in a shirt which has not received benefit of ironing and taking scissors to my own hair.
Both of these events have been monumental in my life and I’m only now able to admit my role in bringing them about. Granted, the wrinkled shirt was only used for a quick scurry to the trash bins in the yard, but it represented the end of a lifetime of ironing tradition and wearing it produced heart palpitations which were not soon forgotten. During the ensuing months I have learned to resist the urge to plug in the iron and now the best that my clothes can expect is a quick hand pressing after they emerge from the dryer.
Similarly, the initial hair-cutting episode required me to draw on strength that I wasn’t sure I had. Eighty-one years without so much as a snip and one morning there I was, scissors in hand, poised in front of the bathroom mirror, looking like some crazed soul out of a horror movie. Over the months I have almost gotten used to seeing myself in the most unflattering coiffure I’ve ever sported and I have learned to use the scissors with aplomb. My method is simple: if it sticks out, chop it off.
The wardrobe department is also pretty sad. At the risk of being called a traitor to my sex, I have to admit that the contents of my closet far exceed the number of garments necessary to sustain life. For months now, I have been wearing the same three pair of trousers – one to wear, one in the laundry and one for for emergencies. After all, at my advanced age, I can’t discount the possibility that incontinence might be on the horizon, so that extra pair is money in the bank.
Likewise, I’ve found it only necessary to have two sets of foot gear – a pair of comfortable shoes and a pair of slippers. I was startled the other day to find that all of the shoes lined up in my closet were taking on a strange grayish cast, but on further investigation I discovered that it wasn’t, as I had feared, some foot fungus run amok, but only a heavy layer of household dust that was creating the effect. Speaking of dust, we are way past the fine film stage here and into the large white fluffy balls that used to only occur under the bed. Now most of the flat surfaces are adorned with them and I’ve become rather fond of the effect.
One of my greatest fears is that my bathrobe will disintegrate before all this is over. By my calculations I figure that I am wearing my pajamas roughly 18 hours out of every 24-hour cycle and much of that time I am wrapped up in my robe. It’s old, but very dear to me, and when it finally goes bye-bye it will be given an appropriate ceremonial sendoff. I can’t think about that right now, because I get much too emotional, and I’m not nearly ready to say good-bye.
In the months that we have been sequestering here at home the culinary scene has also, alas, shockingly deteriorated. I used to make a bit of an effort at serving a fairly balanced diet composed of a variety of tasty foods. Now, not so much. Most of our meals consist of soup – brown soup, green soup, red soup or white soup. At present there are enough containers of frozen soup in our refrigerator to feed the Russian army through a cold winter in Leningrad. It gives me great comfort in knowing that I won’t have to come up with anything very creative in the near future and sometimes I just open the freezer door to gaze at the fruits of my labor. Once in a while, however, I like to insert something a little more solid into our menu and call it by a name other than what it really is. Tuna sandwiches are known as a Seafood Dinner and omelets are Cuisine a la Francais, but I think my personal favorite is my Mexican Fiesta Dinner, referred to by some as canned chili con carne.
It’s been 10½ months now since we’ve been confined to our home. Other than to pick up groceries curbside at our local market every two weeks and get our flu shots at the drive-through clinic, this has been our world during all of that time. I would love to tell you that I have discovered profound things about myself during this forced withdrawal from society, but it just hasn’t happened. Do I miss the world out there? Not that much, really. Would I like to sink my teeth into a big, juicy hamburger and French fries at my favorite burger place? You bet, but I consider myself fortunate in that I have a warm, comfortable place to hang out, a companion who loves to play cards with me and good friends to play Scrabble with online.
One of the best things, however, is that because of my long and deeply personal relationship with Mr. FedEx, I have access to an inexhaustible supply of quilt fabric with which to feed my habit, and I’m usually to be found in my sewing room working on a project.
And that, my friends, is my world. Thanks for listening. Here’s to a better year ahead.
Joan Tarr is a Jackson resident.