I am a freaking cliché thanks to this damn pandemic. Excessive online shopping, cooking, baking, drinking, exercising, protests, plant babies, alternating between being glued to CNN or binge-watching popular series.
I take pride in being unique, starting with my name. I’ve always been one of one in a classroom or job. When I was younger, I hated it. “Is your name a verb?” a classmate asked when we were learning verb conjugations in Latin class. Doctor’s offices, first day of school, or any setting in which people are called by their surnames, I could tell I was the one about to be called by the person’s scrunched up face as they tried to discern how to attack my twelve-letter last name. “Just call me Sherring,” I’d volunteer. Relief evident with a smile or relaxed shoulders. If over the phone, I’d hear a grateful, nervous chuckle. “Hi, Miss Sherring.”
I used to debate whether I’d take my husband’s name when married. That’s a moot point now that I’m back at square one after yet another epic fail—in the midst of this pandemic no less. He was deployed in Iraq pre-pandemic, returned in the spring, and weeks later we were kaput.
While he was away, more for my mental health than to keep things tight and right (for him), I exercised at the Bed-Stuy Blink. I named the Stairmaster Newman, even greeted it the same way Seinfeld greeted the meddling postal worker. “Hellooo, Newman.” Once the pandemic shut down gyms, my living room became my gym, in addition to classroom, dining room, therapist office, dance club, movie theater, meditation space, laundry-folding room, and bedroom when I knocked out on the couch or was too lazy to walk the 25 feet to my bedroom. My queen-size, semi-firm, pillowtop bed is more comfortable than my art-deco couch, but after stacking my pillows just right, and wrapping my fuzzy blanket around me, I was down for the count. Before settling in for TV-watching, I’ve already showered, moisturized, applied peppermint lip balm and wrapped my hair. I’m good.
I want to burn my couch after the pandemic. Throughout the years, but especially during this pandemic I’ve eaten, slept, drank, read, written, cried, laughed, sweated, and spilled on it. I’m usually careful with my daily morning green smoothie, or nightly hot tea, but sometimes crumbs from my midnight snacking on garlic pita chips, buttered King’s Hawaiian rolls or Triscuit crackers lathered in Laughing Cow cheese make their way onto the couch.
Months into the pandemic, I ordered a digital air fryer, food processor and Kitchen Aid mixer. I already had a slow-cooker, pressure cooker, blender and NutriBullet. I never made banana bread, but I did bake zucchini chocolate muffins, and protein doughnut, and an ugly carrot cake for my birthday. I had a Zoom birthday party with family and friends in Seattle, Jacksonville, Boston, Bronx and here in Bed-Stuy. I wore a crown from Amazon. It was supposed to be for my fortieth, but I forgot to pack it for my trip. I wonder what I’ll do next month on the twenty-second for my forty-second.
I’ll for sure buy a new outfit. It’ll join the jumpsuits, sweatshirts, dresses and loungewear I’ve ordered since last March. Some are still unworn. In the beginning, I dressed up for my Zooms. Classes, workshops, workouts, parties, game nights, book club, family check-ins, book tours, concerts, plays, musicals. Everything I did in the real world pre-pandemic, I’ve done virtually.
Even though I listened to podcasts and audiobooks before, it’s increased now, more so than listening to music. Voices of others in conversation make me feel less lonely. I miss reading physical books on the subway. The commute to and from work guaranteed at least two hours daily. I still read, on my couch of course, but the TV only a few feet away is my kryptonite. I made a deal with myself: no TV before 3 pm. I keep it sometimes. It’s not my fault. I’ve lost count of how many family group chats there are about movies and shows to binge. Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV. We share passwords. I saw my family once in 2020. I was so desperate to see them I didn’t realize my Jet Blue flight to Boston was booked for September 11th. It was unseasonably warm, so I made my rounds in backyards and porches. I hugged my brother, but simply waved hello to my 98-year-old grandfather.
The pandemic has spanned so long I went from totally plant-based, to eating steak and oxtail, to Meatless Mondays and back to plant-based—Monday through Thursday. Food is my comfort as I lie on my couch, missing my family, friends, and ex and watching hours of DVR or a streaming service.