by Dorothy Rosby
Many years ago, I wrote a column with the prophetic title, “Someday When I’m Quarantined” in which I bragged about all the projects I’d complete if I were ever quarantined or under house arrest. I didn’t consider either of those likely, so it seemed safe to tell my readers that it was my busy life that kept me from cleaning out my file cabinets and writing a novel. And I almost believed it myself—until I spent a year sheltering in place.
Last year, a lot of us learned it wasn’t our busy social calendar that was keeping us from cleaning the garage or taking up the harp. It’s not that we weren’t busy though. It’s just that the way we spent the unexpected time at home was not the way we thought we would.
What we thought we’d do: Take the time to cook more nutritious meals and exercise daily.
What we did: Baked coffee cake, cookies and muffins and ate them while watching videos of puppies, kittens and toddlers on YouTube.
What we thought we’d do: Catch up on the stack of mending that’s been mounting in the back of our closet since the Clinton administration.
What we did: Decided not to bother mending clothes that no longer fit.
What we thought we’d do: Clean our house from top to bottom focusing on those spots that rarely get our attention including every closet, every cupboard and under every bed even if we had to use a flashlight and spelunking gear to do it.
What we did: Purchased the maximum number of disinfecting products the grocery store allowed, then cleared a corner in the garage to store them all.
What we thought we’d do: Put all our ancient photographs into albums. Organize all our digital photos into files on our computer and back up the files to the cloud. Print off and frame a few favorites.
What we did: Took pictures of every pan of brownies, cookies and seven layer bars we baked and posted them on Facebook and Instagram.
What we thought we’d do: Spend more time reading.
What we did: Spent many hours researching whether disinfectant products expire and trying to determine what the seventh layer in a seven layer bar is.
What we thought we’d do: Enjoy more time with family. Play board games, have movie nights and spend time in meaningful conversations.
What we did: Wondered when family members started chewing so loudly.
What we thought we’d do: Sort through everything in the house and give away or dispose of everything we no longer need or want.
What we did: Realized it’s impossible to give away unneeded items when family members are social distancing with us.
What we thought we’d do: Dust off the piano or old guitar and start practicing daily.
What we did: Sang Happy Birthday every time we washed our hands until our spouse reminded us it isn’t necessary to sing it out loud.
What we thought we’d do: Learn a new skill, maybe calligraphy or wine making.
What we did: Learned to cut our own hair. Not really.
What we thought we’d do: Learn to use all the features on our cellphone and all the options on our microwaves. Finally master the trick for printing on both sides of the paper with our printer.
What we did: Learned to mute ourselves on Zoom meetings. Also finally acquired the skill to create a virtual background so no one else at our online meetings would know we hadn’t used the past year to clean our office. And now that we’re vaccinated, we won’t have time to.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact email@example.com.
by Dorothy Rosby