Humor, I think, tops the list of requirements. It’s the slippery oil that greases the tracks, the non-stick spray that releases us from melting into a puddle or sizzling to a crisp. Instead, we glide (more or less) through the bumpy moments.
While complaining about having another adult human to hold is not good etiquette during the pandemic, when so much is turned on its head already, there are times when so much togetherness just feels…weird!
Here’s a list of the valuable skills (so far) that I suddenly have lots more time to practice:
Learning to give breathing space – i.e. when to come together, when to be apart.
How to understand and express what I need, without blame or self-doubt; and
When to laugh it all off, and dance.
Routines are key, as if we were on a long Buddhist retreat, so we have developed a few. Meditation, dance and yoga in the mornings, writing breaks at tea-time, preferably with elaborate snacks, the occasional game of chess. And meals.
Some time ago a co-worker (back when I had a job) asked me who did the cooking at my house.
“Uh, well,” I stammered, “Neither of us!”
“Huh?” she responded, and then I admitted,
“Neither of us ever had to cook before, really. Our previous partners were gourmet chefs, so the kitchen was out of bounds.”
“So how’s that working out for you now?” she laughed.
“Let’s just say, it’s an adventure!”
And it is. Who knew there were so many meals in a day? A week, a month?
Thank goodness for the garden, but I have to laugh when I look at my crop yield, remembering acres of uniform fruit and vegetables growing in Watsonville, or the produce aisle at Safeway. One zucchini, one squash, one lemon becomes quite precious in my little plot! Fog sidelined the tomatoes, again, though I’ve had luck at last with lettuce, arugula, bok choy, and chard. Another round of delightful sweet peas bloomed, with that delicate, crisp linen scent.
And wonder of wonders, I’ve baked a few loaves of bread, courtesy of my (worried?) sister-in-law, who sent me the world’s easiest no-knead recipe.
One favorite ritual is watching the sunset together, whenever our day evolves in a way that we can. Two nights ago we (I) missed the mark, distracted indoors (probably by a text, miraculous contact with the outside world!) while my husband took in the show.
“You missed the Green Flash.” he scolded.
“No way!” I cried.
“Yep, you did,” he answered. Then he carried on about how special it was. How the green light shot up in a gigantic arc above the sinking sun as it nestled into the faint fog bank at the horizon, how the heavens opened wide above him and the angels sang Hallelujah, and I’d missed it all!
He actually had me going for about an hour, mad at myself, researching the Green Flash on Wikipedia (is it real? Yes it is) etc. Then he confessed he was teasing. Perhaps he was reciprocating for my coaxing the dog into bringing him a dead rat that morning? I wonder.
It may be time to take a trip off the mountain sometime soon.