The Fabulous Wife is fond of a concept she calls elastic tolerance. In the midst of a prolonged, unpleasant situation, you endure. But once the end of that situation comes in sight, you need superhuman willpower to finish without snapping.
The pandemic hasn’t quite done that to us. The Fabulous Wife is a nester by nature, so staying home all day, interrupted only by brief trips to the office or grocery store a few times a week, suits her fine. And my goals for retirement, the four R’s (running, reading, ruminating, and writing), are solitary, so they have continued unencumbered, except for the running due to a torn meniscus (since fixed — I should be back on the trail soon!). The Fabulous Wife is more gregarious than I, but she isn’t much of a people person either, so in that regard the pandemic has worked for us, turning our inclination to avoid people into a virtue.
It’s a good time to be a homebody or introvert.
But with the arrival of vaccines that work — the New York Times reports that deaths in nursing homes have plummeted 80%, which is fantastic! — our elastic tolerance is beginning to fray.
The Fabulous Wife is a fanatical knitter (and seamstress — she made three-layer cloth masks for us and for many friends and relatives) and over the years has amassed a voluminous stash of yarn she no longer wants. She found an established South Bay non-profit that’s soliciting yarn donations so its volunteers can knit clothing for people in homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and the like. “Wanna take a ride?” I asked. “Why not?” she responded, and we threw her extra yarn in the trunk and drove an hour south — the farthest we’ve been from home in more than a year. Just being on the freeway was a thrill.
It boggles my mind that I haven’t even been to San Francisco in a year; between work and pleasure, I used to go there three or four times a month. Of late I’ve been dreaming constantly of going elsewhere. Last night I dreamed we went to Paris — for one day. Pretty lavish, right? Actually, it was full of anxiety, pre-occupied with the logistics of catching trains and planes. The Paris part of the dream consisted of us going up and down a hill we’d never been to before in a residential neighborhood that was pleasant but not scenic.
So as lightly as the pandemic has touched us, it’s still having an impact, and we’re feeling it more and more.
Our tolerance will have to remain elastic a few months longer. As The Fabulous Wife puts it, we’re too young for the cure (under 65 and not essential workers) and too old to survive the disease. I think we probably would survive the disease, but with physical and psychological damage. In any case, we don’t want to find out. Another of The Fabulous Wife’s pandemic maxims is that we don’t want to be Henry Gunther, the last American soldier killed during World War I — one minute before the armistice went into effect. So we continue to observe social distancing protocols, and when we go to an indoor environment that isn’t our home, we wear two masks: an N95 or surgical mask underneath one of The Fabulous Wife’s three-layer cloth creations.
It’s almost over, for which we must profusely thank the scientists who devised the vaccines and the support people bringing the vaccines to us — on top of the medical professionals and essential workers who have been helping us all along. Without them, our tolerance would have to stay elastic until it snapped from sheer exhaustion.