When the world as we know it changes, we can adjust our lens and look closer at the things we can do better at work, at home, in our community, or our relationships. We can decide which things we can leave behind and the things we will take forward.
The rain had subsided, so I took the chance to run to the store sans children. The older kids would be homeschooling on their iPads for another hour, and my toddler was settling into some quiet time with Daddy.
I found a spot next to the cart corral. I smirked as this was a small feat I would have celebrated pre-pandemic. At the entrance of the store, an employee offered me a freshly disinfected cart and a warm hello, and I began foraging. I noticed the empty shelves, one after another. Dry goods were limited to 8 total per customer. Lucky for us, my husband had perfected his pasta-making skills over the last month, so I grabbed a few things and cruised over to the baking aisle for flour.
Cleaning products were down to a single lonely bottle, and apparently, flushable personal hygiene wipes were now the acceptable substitution for toilet paper. The craft aisle had been swept clean, but a few tubes of glitter, some pipe cleaners, and glue sticks remained. I admit, we had become crafting maniacs ourselves.
I glanced to my right and was drawn to the scents of the candles and room sprays. As I tugged off the lid of a jar, I lost myself. The candle scents peppered with florals, fruit, and calming woodsy notes transported me to a different time. A time when I hastily walked these aisles with my children and repeated things like, “Nope, not getting that today….please put that back, we have shopping to do…we can look at toys when we are done, okay?” I recall the rare times I could leisurely walk the store alone checking out the clearance shelf and maybe even get crazy and try on a swimsuit or jeans.
I was struck by how much things had changed.
I remembered when I had somewhere to be. I remembered when we ran late, the fast meals, and the driving here, there and everywhere. I remembered when my husband traveled, and Sunday evenings were a catch-up night. I also remembered the cheering at dance competitions, getting ready before the dance, watching a three-pointer hit the rim, and the crack of the bat making contact with the softball. Suddenly, I snapped back into reality, and nearly pulled off my mask before I realized where I was.
I could barely hear the cashier through the plexiglass telling me how she took that job after her bartending job was no longer essential. She continued bagging my items as I used my gloved hand to finish my transaction, waved goodbye, and walked to my car in a daze.
On the drive home, I felt a bit numb. Passing Taco Bell with a line around the building, I considered stopping for a bag of tacos and some normalcy. Then I thought, tonight, we were making homemade shrimp and grits, and the kids were setting up for a southern theme. It hit me then, all of the things we used to do we suddenly had time to do again. We took our time making food, creating themes, dressing up, and using our imagination.
We have all adopted a deeper appreciation for the people in our lives and communities who do so much for us. We are teaching our kids how to lend a hand to the world in new ways. More importantly, perhaps, we are finding a renewed appreciation for the family we live with every day.
When the world changes, maybe we just need to adjust our lens. Club Quarantine in the basement became a Saturday night standard, and Sunday Best forced everyone to shower. String lights in the garage, painters tape roads on the wall, and pop up forts were acceptable new features in our home now. Mustaches, couches broken in from dancing, home haircuts, pink hair dye, movie watching in the middle of the day, and counting how many seconds it takes for someone’s chewing loudly to make you blow your top are all things we will remember fondly. Take what you need, leave the rest behind.