Week 16 in the Time of Coronavirus; Attending to the Mundane
While social distancing, and quarantining when necessary, I have experienced, as we all have, moments in which we are faced with small but necessary tasks. Cleaning for me is one of those responsibilities that feels great when it’s done, yet I procrastinate getting it done. This weekend I had to defrost my small office freezer. It’s not so difficult as it is annoying. And, even on the annoying scale it’s pretty low, especially when we have to deal with so many annoyances while going through this Covid-19 period. Nonetheless, when the ice trays can’t be removed, and my Tito’s bottle is stuck, both from neglect, as well as frost accumulation, it’s time to take on the mini fridge.
The nice part about it is that I can do it in stages. First stage is to empty out everything from the refrigerator. Mostly it’s water bottles, beverages, and condiments. I place anything that needs to be kept cold in a bag. Then I turn off the unit, open the door, and place a large, absorbent towel in front to prevent flooding. Next I haul the bag one and half blocks where I place it in my apartment fridge. From there I went on a walk.
I loved the walk. It was a hot and humid day yesterday. So I walked a bit slower into Central Park, then north on the bridal path, and uptown once again to the shady north woods along a brook. It was quiet and peaceful. I try to take paths I don’t know. It’s fun to get lost and see things I might not have seen before. Or, find that I can see them from another vantage point. After I was satisfied and tired, I trekked back home. When I made it to the Eastside it started to rain gently. Perfect. The streets empty out, yet the precipitation is light enough to barely get wet. I could smell the musky, sweet aroma of a storm to come.
I was instantaneously brought back to summers of yore when I would be playing outside and had to run in, sometimes getting my red Keds wet in the process. It is a routine perfumed scent, yet very specific, bringing joy to me as I made my way back home. Once home, I saw that the rugs needed vacuuming, and I had just enough energy to get that done. Again, a mundane task, yet I recalled all the weekends as a child I had to stay in until I finished my chores. One was to dust and vacuum the living room, a golden carpet under staid furniture that barely hosted activity.
There is much in these small moments, these mundane undertakings that recall memories. Today I went back to my office to wipe down the refrigerator and restock it, remembering broken freezers in my 20s, and impromptu parties so the goods wouldn’t spoil. These mundane projects remind us that getting through this time of the Coronavirus connects our troublesome present with our past, as well as hope for a safe future. A future when we can blend banal moments with pleasurable diversions like walking in Central Park with a friend.
*Read poetry. There’s everything from accessible poetry like Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Maya Angelou. Or, other forms such as Rumi, Nikki Giovanni, Mark Doty, and Shakespeare. There are also really funny and fun poems, if you’d like to lighten your day. Elinor Lipman on FB has very funny poems (they have a left slant). Or, go basic like Dr. Suess, Shel Silverstein, or Dorothy Parker.
*Decorate a mask. Make your mask your own. Draw lips, or if you’re okay getting messy, put on bling and sparkles. Enjoy presenting your creativity when out.
*Hydrate. Being outdoors in the summer can be fun, but staying hydrated allows for even more fun. If you are opposed to drinking water, find flavored, unsweetened water or make your own. I find fresh mint leaves in my water or iced tea is really refreshing
*Clear up one small area in your space. Whether you tackle a drawer, or simply straighten up your work area by going through some papers and making it a bit tidier, it will help to bring the smallest bit of mental space.
*Be silly. Find the playful child in you.