I never thought that being a homebody would uniquely qualify me to withstand a worldwide crisis, but it has. My “happy place” or “safe place” has always been at home. Growing up, my parents and I always tried to stay at home in pajamas together on Sundays and I cherished this weekly ritual. In the summer, at our country house, we often stayed home for days on end and usually only ventured out to shop once a week. A day when I didn’t have to leave the house (or the property in the summer), was a great day.
For most of my adult life, staying home was just not an option and I adjusted to a busy life out in the world. But whenever I had to leave home for a trip, I would get anxious. I would obsess over packing and arrangements for taking care of the kids, dogs and/or house while I was away. The anxiety didn’t keep me home, but it made the prepping and planning for a trip anxiety-ridden and difficult. I still feel anxious when leaving and I start planning what to take weeks in advance to make sure that I take everything I could possibly need.
Whenever possible, I try to plan my life so that I do most of my errands on one or two days so I can have several days in a row when I don’t have to leave the house. Sometimes I even stock up enough supplies so I only have to shop every ten days to two weeks.
Flash forward to the Coronavirus pandemic and the stay at home, shelter in place orders we have been living with for close to two months now. I realized that by nature, I am well suited to get through this crisis with flying colors. I’m being ordered by my Governor to stay home. No problem! The rest of the world is now afraid to leave their homes – so now everyone is living my dream of staying home all the time. I’m no longer an outlier – my slightly neurotic behavior patterns are now the norm and I’m no longer quirky, I’m just a good citizen. This is my finest hour! I’m a pro at going out as little as possible.
This crisis has created a planet full of agoraphobics. I’ve read numerous articles about how long it will take for people to feel comfortable again going out to restaurants or theaters or any place where they are closely exposed to strangers. Even when governors open up parts of the economy, there’s no guarantee that people will come out and leave their safety zones until they’re very sure that it’s safe. That may require levels of testing that we just don’t have right now. Several of my friends have literally not left their houses for over six weeks and get everything delivered to the house. Even I have been going out once a week to shop and get mail. These friends will certainly not jump back into their previous routines of shopping, socializing, and eating out any time soon.
I feel lucky that I’m not ‘suffering’ from being cooped up at home as many people are. I don’t feel ‘trapped’ and I don’t have cabin fever. But I’m sheltering at home with my husband and two dogs so I’m not alone. On the other hand, I don’t have to deal with children and their homeschooling and/or working from home. So adjusting to the new reality has not been stressful for me. We’ve been using Zoom and Facetime to ‘socialize’ with friends and family several times a week so I still feel connected with loved ones.
My husband and I also retired before the virus struck so we weren’t going to work every day anyway. As a result, our daily routines have not been altered dramatically. We both get up at our usual time and get dressed every day – no pajamas during the day. However, I don’t curl my hair or put on makeup and I do wear my furry Uggs instead of real shoes. We mostly miss dinners with friends on the weekends (most of our friends are younger and still working during the week). We will miss entertaining people on the boat when it gets into the water and spending leisurely days hanging out on the dock with others.
Because of our stage of life and my basic nature, we’re surviving the total disruption of life on earth better than most. I’m now part of the mainstream of worldwide agoraphobics who won’t leave our homes until Dr. Fauci tells us it’s safe out there!