A lot of things have already changed, maybe forever. It’s hard to imagine actually shaking hands again. Or standing in a crowded elevator. Or squeezing body-to-body in the subway.
It’s strange watching TV shows made before the virus (as they all were). Everyone seems so promiscuous with their personal space. They’re less than three feet apart and they don’t seem to care. They might be breathing on each other. To say nothing of the onscreen lovers, with their kissing and hand-holding and other microbe-passing activities. Shouldn’t they be boiling each other first?
Then there are the new routines, the new rituals that stem from what I hesitate to call hardships. They’re not hardships, but they seem to portend hardship.
Who knew that the bottle of rubbing alcohol in our bathroom would become the hero of the household? I now routinely distinguish between modes of disinfectant—the wipes, sprays, bleaches, hand sanitizers, and various liquids you mix yourself and apply, perhaps short-sightedly, with precious paper towels. I now know which of these are okay for my hands, which work best on plastic bags, which need to be in the car for those rare but perilous adventures out into the weird (and getting weirder) world.
Who even heard of an N95 mask before? Let alone been thrilled at the discovery of one in our closet? Part of a survival kit Peggy was given by her firm years ago, in the wake of 9/11. We’re almost embarrassed to have it, but it's now one of our most cherished possessions.
Then there’s the food delivery that is now three days late. While it’s not that big a deal—a stocking-up delivery of no immediate consequence—it is nonetheless a jarring reminder that the action in this movie is getting hotter. That we are growing highly dependent on highly vulnerable people. That they will be coming to our front porch, and we will need to go through the disinfection ritual before moving any food into the house.
Or maybe not. Maybe that food won’t arrive at all. We had resolved to avoid all stores for the duration, but if deliveries stop happening, that could change. Maybe in a week or two I’ll get to have another supermarket moment. Good thing we have that mask.