By Mary Lynn Bruny

We are in month six of this pandemic. Wow! That’s a long time. In this period, two-thirds of a new human has been grown inside its mother. Meanwhile most of us older, born humans who have been penned up in our homes feel like we’re just stagnant, or worse, mildly decaying from lack of proper use – especially those of us who are high risk or live with someone who is.

We thought this thing would be a couple months long. But, no. It’s like that one hike your dad took you on when you were little and kept saying the end of the trail was just a little further for what felt like 800 hours and 6,000 miles. When it was over you were exhausted, your feet hurt, you were ticked off and never quite trusted your father again with anything involving distance. That’s when you started insisting on seeing maps before car trips and asked for a world atlas for your birthday. Now you have excellent navigational skills, so it all worked out well, but still.

To say it’s a weird time is an understatement. First, we’re working hard at not doing things: to not stand close to people (or God forbid, touch them), to not become infected, to not spread the virus, to not add to the stress of our health care system. But then within this reality we’re trying to find a new normal (which does not feel normal at all): to work, to socialize, to exercise, to support our local economy, and to help how we can – while staying distinctly separated and masked in our six-foot zone. And, of course, we’re trying to do all this while not going slightly bonkers. A tall order.

News articles report folks are not being quite as productive working from home as they were in earlier months. Gee, I wonder why? Twenty-four/seven cooped up with family members; taking care of babies and toddlers; homeschooling kids; fearing losing ones’ job while already dealing with the loss of hours or salary; worrying about the economy, unemployment rates and riots; and all this topped with the anxiety of possibly getting sick. Why ever can’t Bob from accounting focus and get those reports done? It’s a head scratcher, really.

We all deal with this anxiety differently. My husband, who is high-risk and veers toward the intelligently cautious side, has been incredibly devoted to sanitizing his hands and surfaces. He keeps buying more products even though we have a cupboard full. “This one has aloe,” he tells me. “Completely different product.” He uses so much gel – gobs of it each time – his hands are dry and cracking. “You’re going to have no skin left if you keep this up,” I warn him.
“But I’ll be alive!” he retorts. “No,
you’ll bleed to death,” I quip back. Yes, folks, we’re in month six and it’s quite apparent by the steep reduction in the quality of our conversations with loved ones.

People keep saying the good news is that this will end. Really? It doesn’t feel like it right now. Seems more like mononucleosis in a college freshman dorm: It just keeps making the rounds due to saucy behavior. But it will end. At some point a vaccine will be found and available. I have no doubt by then that baby will be born, but hopefully not yet crawling. With luck the rest us grown humans will remember how to live outside our quarantine bubbles, stretch our underused selves, rip off our facemasks and engage in what feels like risky and illicit behavior, such as hugging someone. Can’t wait for the day.

Mary Lynn Bruny is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at ml.bruny@comcast.net.