It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been sheltering at home for three weeks now. It’s not that I never leave the house; I try to go for a walk every day. As extra motivation, I’ve started posting pictures from my walks on social media (to see them, check my Instagram account). And I’m fortunate that my husband is such good company, since he’s the only person I see.
Besides my walks, I’ve run a few errands in the last three weeks: to shop at the farmer’s market, to pick up takeout, to pump gas, to walk in the river park across town. Probably more places than I should go, but I’ve been trying to balance safety with getting food. I also wanted to spend a little money at the struggling restaurants in my town. Since we have a tourist-based economy, they are really hurting. Even if everyone in town bought takeout at their normal rate, it still wouldn’t be enough to support all of them, but of course, most people are eating in. Many of the restaurants are closed; I hope they reopen after the order is lifted. I’ve also bought some gift cards to support local retailers that had to shut. It seems so little I can do.
Because my work is always online, I haven’t had much of a shift in that area, but everything else has changed. Sitting in a restaurant and eating with a friend seems like such a luxury. Going to the theater, watching a concert, singing in a group, all seem distant recollections, like remembering the days before people wore bicycle helmets or cars had air bags. Movies showing people meeting in crowded restaurants, taking a standing-room only bus, flying on planes—they make my pulse race in panic as if they were horror movies. It’s hard for me to remember that I did all of those things less than a month ago.
Usually disasters bring communities together. After the Loma Prieta earthquake, I met all my apartment neighbors, including a man holding a scared chihuahua, as we congregated around a pool half-emptied by the earth's shaking. Now, though, the nature of the disaster separates us, and while after the earthquake everyone gathred to help each other, now the best way to help others is by staying home. It goes against our basic human need for connection.
However, my virtual social life is picking up. I’ve been able to go to virtual writers’ group meeting, virtual church coffee hour, and virtual meetup with my chorus members (no singing). Today’s hat is one I’ve worn for the Project before, The Sweaty Palms Hat. I wore this hat to virtual coffee hour this week.
We adapt. Before all this started, I only had about eight hats to go for The Hat Project. I had a rough schedule, arranging hats around the hat I wanted to wear on Easter and the last hat of the hat project. Now, I'm moving forward more slowly, and under different conditions than when I started this project, but I’m still moving forward. Sunday is Easter, the best hat holiday of the year. Though I can’t attend church in person or host a family dinner, I will still be wearing a hat.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and nonfiction and collects hats. In this blog she vows to wear (not just model, but wear out of the house) every one of her hats, blogging about their histories and their meanings for her.