The Wife and I have started a little project in our postage stamp backyard to build a garden. She found a company getting rid of some old wooden pallets, thus supplying us with free wood (heh heh) to build some planter boxes, and our family generously donated some good soil. All we needed now was a hammer and nails to make our “when-the-world-goes-to-pot-at-least-we-can-grow-our-own” dreams come true.
This meant a trip into Virusland.
I have not ventured out much during quarantine. Other than my occasional vodka run, the Wife is the one who braves the cold, cruel world.
We tell folks this is because we believe it minimizes our exposure to things by only having one of us go out when needed. But, to be honest, we both know I have a hard time being out there right now. Experiencing the world as it is at the moment, compounds my stress, anxiety, and hopelessness.
This means today was my first outing in quite a while. I have only driven my car once in the past six weeks. When I do go outside, it is to take the three-year-old on a walk through the woods where passing other people along the path feels like encountering a bear.
Eyes down, stay quiet, maybe they won’t notice us.
And they don’t, for the most part. Hell, the only people I have verbally spoken to in the flesh other than the four humans living with me are two of my neighbors who I haven’t even officially met since moving in. It’s just nods and “hey’s” over the fence or across the street.
As we pulled up to Ye Olde Home Depot, the line to get in stretched all along the entire front of the building. Granted, the line was made longer by proper social distancing, but the sight was a surreal one. Dozens and dozens of people standing in masks, avoiding eye contact, and talking in hushed whispers if at all. Even the workers monitoring the line and letting customers know when they could enter used only gestures and head nods.
The inside of the store was quiet as well, with everyone avoiding everyone else. When our cashier spoke out loud it sounded weird and I responded much too loudly.
The Wife says the grocery store is the same with no one talking or interacting. Everyone’s eyes are down as they simply get in and get out. She compares it shopping in The Handmaid’s Tale, which is the perfect description.
Walking to the car, The Wife and I overly assured each other that that wasn’t so bad, and that was pretty easy, and the line really moved faster than you would have thought.
As we drove away, my voice cracked and I wasn’t even speaking. Emotion had exploded from my chest and I caught it in my throat and forced it back down before it could leak out my eyes and down my face.
I don’t like the world right now.
I really don’t.