I feel for extroverts. This isolation business must be driving them crazy; having to clear their calendar, stay away from people and be lost with themselves. What would they do without Zoom gatherings?

Introverts are inevitably having an easier time with shelter in place edicts. Sure, the calendar is empty, but we know how to exist without a full a calendar. We still have fairly full lives. I’ve had it relatively easy during these two weeks of isolation since coming back from Mexico. It helps that I’m more of an introvert than extrovert. I’m good at being alone. But there is a world of difference between choosing to be isolated and being told to isolate. I’m still going on dog walks. Fortunately, I’m finding places in South Lake Tahoe where people are cognizant of the 6-foot rule and abide by it. The dogs, well, they are still doing the butt-sniff greeting. For me, it shows there is some normalcy in the world. People on the trails seem kinder. We all suddenly have something in common, this coronavirus. One friend, who is 90, said with how quiet it is on the South Shore it reminds her of what the area was like when she first moved here.

One day calendars will be full again. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Before leaving Todos Santos I planned to isolate in Tahoe for two weeks so I would feel comfortable going to see my 85-year-old mom (and for all the other reasons to be responsible). Then came the edict from Gov. Gavin Newsom saying Californians weren’t to move around at all in April. Mom and I agreed we’d abide by that order. It’s hard. We’re healthy and want to keep it that way. We are the fortunate ones. However, we communicate a little more often now.

She is one of those extroverts I worry about; especially because she lives alone. She’s started gardening again, giving her purpose and getting her away from the television. Fortunately, my oldest sister, who lives in the same town, visits her. Church services and bible study are now delivered via Zoom for her. Technology is such a bridge in times like this.

It’s also a divider. Plenty of people don’t have computers at home or internet. While educational setting can be an equalizer, socio-economic truths are revealed when home becomes the classroom. I applaud educators and parents who are adapting to this new world. Even if things start opening up in May, classrooms in California are likely to be shuttered for the academic year. I imagine (and based on snippets I’ve seen on social media) learning is taking on new forms – like exploring the outdoors, cooking, yoga and so much more. Time will tell how this group of students will be changed because of what is happening in the world and at home.

A friend came close to losing their parents after both were diagnosed with COVID-19. The mom, who is one of my mom’s best friends, was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Boise, Idaho, only to be turned away. She was bad, but not bad enough to warrant a ventilator. One of their daughters suited up and started caring for them. They turned the corner and will be fine. It was certainly touch and go. My mom relayed how Patsy described it to her made it obvious no one wants this virus. It’s not the flu, no matter how some powers that be continue to describe it as being benign.

I can’t imagine the angst of not being able to say goodbye in person to a loved one. To hold their hand, that final touch, those last words. I hope I don’t ever experience that emotional hell. I hope it’s more than wishful thinking that the number of people who are in that situation starts to diminish. I have a friend who can’t visit her mom who is in a care facility that is in lockdown, like all the others. The phone isn’t the same as visits in person when someone is compromised.

One friend has been wrestling with the paperwork for a small business loan from the stimulus package to keep her publication alive. She called it “my new 50+ hour week job.” With advertisers dropping off, she has gone solely online. Small and large publications are losing advertisers. People are being furloughed. I worry about what this shutdown will do to the media of all sizes. If you think the print publications you read are thinner than usual, it’s because advertisers have disappeared. The size is all determined by the percentage of ads. The media was already a precarious industry. In our desire for news about the virus and all other matters it should prove how necessary the media is. Buy subscriptions, pay for one even if it’s not available, support the advertisers. A publication I work for in Mexico has cut pay for staff and freelancers like myself by 50 percent.

I’m fortunate Sue opened her home to me in Tahoe. I’ve learned it’s hard to social distance living with someone. I wear latex gloves when cooking so I don’t “contaminate” anything she would touch. I start the laundry, including putting the clothes in the dryer. I open the dryer door for her since I’ve “contaminated” it, then she folds the clothes. My shirt sleeve is used so often to open doors. I’ve taken over the kitchen table as my work place. She steers clear. If I don’t want to glove-up, I ask Sue to get me something out of the fridge. We have separate leashes to walk the dog. I put on AJ’s coat and take it off of her. Sue is in charge of the remotes for the TV.

I realize this is nothing compared to the essential workers who are coming home at the end of a shift not knowing who they were exposed to; even worse for the ones who know exactly what they were immersed in. There are people who can’t go home because a loved one is compromised; which means racking up bills for a hotel. It’s real, it’s happening. I didn’t make up that scenario.

I can attend Zoom happy hours with friends, see others on FaceTime, WhatsApp, pick up the phone, text, email. I’ve done one Zoom happy hour. It seemed a bit much with 11 people. I’ve always preferred smaller gatherings. That one was dominated by the extroverts. I mostly listened. Maybe I’ll participate again, but it’s not something I’ve put on my calendar. I’ll stick with my more meaningful interactions with friends and family.

In many ways, because I don’t have children and am not working a traditional job, my daily life has not changed much. I miss playing tennis; that was my biggest social outlet. I miss my friends. I miss watching baseball. I’ve been exercising at home for years, so that has not been an adjustment. I prefer to cook than go out, so again, not a sacrifice. I am relegated to eat what is in the house, so I can’t merely go out to satisfy a craving I might have. This is just a whimper, and clearly nothing to complain about. I am making a grocery list. Baking items are something that would not have been on Sue’s. I like to read, so I’m still doing that. Even though libraries are closed, eBooks can still be downloaded.

My friend Rosemary had been collecting my mail while I was living in Mexico. I picked that up outside her house. We chatted through her kitchen window. We’ll walk 6-feet apart soon now that my two-week isolation is ending. It also means I’ll go to the post office to get my own mail.

This summer I’m hosting my family’s reunion in South Lake Tahoe; about 40 of us are planning to attend. This isolation has given me time to work on the bios of everyone so I can send those out before June. I’m still writing blog posts. I filled out the Census form online. But other things, well, I’m putting them off. The rack on my Jeep still needs to come off. I have a to-do list that gets longer, yet I have all of this time. I’m hoping to get back to writing my book. It hasn’t been touched since before I left Mexico. For the books I have written (The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes, Snowshoeing Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Treks, and Lake Tahoe Trails For All Seasons: Must-Do Hiking and Snowshoe Treks) I need to create PowerPoint presentations for the events I have lined up starting in June. I’m wrestling with sending an email to the retailers who owe me money for books that have been delivered. The stimulus package doesn’t cover those unpaid bills. It’s not thousands of dollars that I’m owed, but book sales are my primary income. I haven’t had a sale on Amazon since March 21.

Everyone is affected by this virus. For those who have been impacted far greater than I, you have my sympathies. For those deemed essential workers, thank you doesn’t seem like enough. For now, though, it’s all I can offer.

Stay sanitized … that’s my signature now on emails … and it’s how I end this missive.

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