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Precious pandemic lessons

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published May 02, 2021 5:00 am

Have you noticed how your reaction to quarantine changes? Some days you are happy enough. Other days you are downright miserable. Time seems to walk on thick mud, stepping very slowly, so afraid to fall. Finally you admit to yourself that you are bored. Should you really feel this way?

My husband and I have been married more than three years. Before we were married each of us lived alone. I didn’t really mind living alone because I’m a crafts person who always finds something to do. But when I think about how long this quarantine has lasted, I imagine I might have gone crazy if I had not gotten married.

Sure, I stayed at home a lot, but during the week I would go to the Senior’s Hub to exercise, chat with my friends, even play mahjong on those electronic tables that make the walls for you. On Sundays I would go to Mass then to the Sunday markets to buy food for the rest of the week. I would always have some activity that involved other people.

These days we look at each other and ask: What would have happened to us if we had not gotten married? We would have each been genuinely alone with no one to talk to for a whole year, now going on our second year. Would we have survived that isolation?

Loy also would always have his girlfriends over for their singing sessions. In between those he would be out doing grocery shopping, buying things for his parties. He was also always doing things with other people.

These days we look at each other and ask: What would have happened to us if we had not gotten married? We would have each been genuinely alone with no one to talk to for a whole year, now going on our second year. Would we have survived that isolation?

We are so glad we found each other even if we spend our days mostly in separate rooms. We have two TV sets, one in the bedroom, another in the living room. We watch different programs.

The one in the living room has all the boxing matches, all the World War 1 and 2 documentaries, all the songs by his girl crushes, all the Rick Steve travelogues that Loy loves to watch. The one in the bedroom also has a bit of what Loy likes but more what I like. I like watching American news delivered by Lester Holt, whom I like (he’s my crush, just to get even with Loy’s girl crushes). I like to watch murderous serials on Netflix.

Loy goes to and fro from the living room to the bedroom to amuse himself watching TV. Also, he plays solitaire on his cell phone sometimes while watching TV. I’ve caught him!

I have changed what used to be Loy’s guest room into a workroom where I go to make rosaries. It used to be very neat and tidy. Now it’s a bit of a mess with bottles of beads and little recycles containers of more beads but I enjoy making rosaries through this clutter.

It’s true, too much TV can be boring. I cannot watch more than two episodes of the serials. Also, I have already done everything I can do for our condo. I’ve cleared out the groceries, pared them down to a minimum. I’ve set up an altar where we pray. There’s not much more fixing to do.

I make around three rosaries a day. A little before five my hands feel like dropping off so I stop for the day. I go to our bedroom to stretch my back that has been strained from being seated all day. That’s when I watch two episodes of whatever serial. Then I watch Lester Holt. Then I play solitaire on my desktop — two-deck Free Cell, very challenging. I play this before and after dinner.

Of course we have dinner together like husbands and wives do in the movies. After dinner he goes back to his TV in the living room, while I go to the bedroom for more Free Cell and music on TV.

“See you later, alligator,” he says to me. That means we meet again at nine, in the bedroom, where we will pray together, watch a little more TV together, before we get sleepy and fall asleep. That is our typical quarantine day. 

He complains that the typical day is boring. It’s true, that much TV can be boring. I cannot watch more than two episodes of the serials. Also I have already done everything I can do for our condo. I’ve cleared out the groceries, pared them down to a minimum. I’ve set up an altar where we pray. There’s not much more fixing to do. But I don’t get bored because I have all these rosaries to make. They keep me occupied.

If I didn’t have them, what would I do? I think I would order a sewing machine and start sewing again like I did when my children were small. Now all my daughters are over 50 years old. This time, I could sew all those projects I have stored in a chest. Maybe I can make them after I’m done with the rosaries, which just might be next year. Or the year after that.

The lessons we learn from this pandemic! They are precious.