“How are you doing?”

That’s the question I’m being asked when I make human contact. Perhaps you are, too. Not asked so much as a health question, but rather as a check-in on emotional stability during this COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Some people are already going stir-crazy.

I usually answer for both physical and emotional health as fine. I really am doing fine. I get up in the morning feeling my usual energized self. By 4 o’clock, though, I’m dragging and ready for the day to wrap up. Yet, just as it was before the quarantine, I’m still ending the day with more to do than I have time or energy for. Boredom is not a problem around here.

While talking to our pastor on the phone this morning, after he had asked that question up there, I explained that I was raised to live like this. Growing up way out in the country, with no siblings at home, a mother who didn’t drive, and a father who dedicated his life to his crops, I lived a pretty sheltered life. As a family we rarely went on trips anywhere besides the grocery story once a month, or into the big city for shopping for back to school and Christmas. Sunday afternoons, after church, we might take a drive around the countryside so my dad could see what other farmers were doing. He always wanted to compare his crops with others or see what new crops other growers were putting in.

There was no public library in our town at that time, and even if there had been, it was miles away. We didn’t have a television until I was six years old. We listened to lots of radio programs and my mother read the paper every day which made me interested in what was going on. The Montgomery and Spiegel catalogues offered a glimpse of another world. I loved going to school and to church.

Even with that small world, I cannot say I was ever bored. Some days I had to look harder for things to occupy my time. Family photographs were a favorite way to spend time. My mother had boxes of them, going back decades. I walked the fields when I was old enough to be out on my own and made up stories. Every time I was able to get paper and pencils, I would write out some of the stories. Some of the field reps gave my dad small notebooks with their logo printed on the cover that he used to keep track of which field needed water or cultivating or planting. He kept track of seed, fertilizer, and payroll in some of the notebooks, and he often gave me any extra ones. I loved them for writing my own stories.

Living a small, quiet life has made this time in history pretty easy for me. Sure, I miss seeing my friends for lunch, reading stories to first graders, and being in church each Sunday, and these activities will eventually return, but until then I will enjoy reading, writing, cooking, walking, and using social media to connect with the outside world. When it gets warmer, I am looking forward to working in the yard and cleaning the patio and garage. Those chores will really keep me occupied. I will be fine.

9 responses to ““How are you doing?”

  1. Oh, my goodness, what a walk down memory lane! I grew up in the city, but so much of what you remember is familiar to me, too. I had to entertain myself a lot, and books were my constant companions. I, too, have found this time relatively easy to adjust to, after going through a short period of being consumed by the numbers. We are fortunate indeed.

  2. I grew up in the suburbs, but as a child immersed myself in books and my own imaginary worlds. Those ingrained habits are serving me well.

  3. I’ve read all the books in the apartment that I had skipped, and now it’s time to start downloading some onto my Kindle. I’m hoping we all get through this time safely. I loved your description of your early life, so different from mine.

    • Wow, you read even faster than I do. I have so much to do around here right now that I have cut back some on reading. I am really drawing out the finish of the book I have at my bedside, May Sarton’s, A Reckoning, because I have already read the last chapter and know how it ends. Sarton’s gift with language, and the how she evokes the feeling of what she considers an elderly woman (60), makes me want to linger over each page.

  4. I was pretty isolated until I was 5 years old, but after that I always had my brother and friends nearby. I do love to be with people, but my blog and texting with friends and family in Hawaii and Illinois really keeps me feeling connected. I think you have a wonderful sense of inner peace that keeps you happy. I maybe OK for now but by next week, I don’t know.

    • We are really in the early stages, just two weeks right now. I’m expecting two months of this, hopefully ending by May 13. When the weather gets warmer, I have even more chores to keep me busy.

  5. I miss the F2F sccializing. More than I would have thought. I’ve always loved my own company and am never bored (except in the company of those who small-talk at me). I love my Zoom meetings, I love the adaption of old people to this new technology and the absolute kind patience of the younger ones in teaching them

    XO
    WWW

    • I fear I may love this isolation too much. It’s very comfortable to be at home, quiet, with no responsibilities or obligations. No one is making any demands on my time or attention. No one expects me to do things.

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