Lucy Jensen

Always look on the bright side… Easier said than done, I know. These have been some unprecedented months in the life of a year — and we haven’t even made it to six of the blessed things yet!

I recently found myself popping into the local dollar store. I needed a birthday card, simple enough. But wait! I found myself actually picking up a basket and cruising the aisles for life’s essentials. Who does that in a dollar store? I’ve obviously missed the art of browsing; I hadn’t realized how therapeutic it is to just lose yourself in a retail environment and zone out mind and body. I exited the dollar emporium with quite a lot more than a greeting card I can tell you!

I don’t want to do curbside retail, I want to go inside and see what the styles and colors are, I want to look at the shoes on sale and browse the swim aisle for a new bathing suit to be worn on vacation in the latter part of the year. We can only hope. Hark! It’s an airplane trail! Wait, there is more than one. I’ve missed those things! What is happening? Is the world opening up? Gosh your mind can go into a strange tailspin after eight weeks of lockdown.

With feral feet peeking out of my flip flops, daring the world to say one word about closed nail salons, I scrape the last of the gnarly gel polish off my stubby thumb and wonder if it’s time to teach myself how to pretty up the darn things. My hair is a nest of whirling grey-blonde wisp with split ends flying in the wind and I do realize that, during a Zoom meeting the like of which I had never heard of before March, it’s quite fun to not have to wear any pants.

People I know are worrying about the end of lockdown and how they will feel when they are forced out again into the world. “I cried for the first two weeks,” one said. “Now I’d like it to stay this way forever in my safe house with my puppies and my beloved. I can work perfectly well in my jim-jams from home. Don’t make me go back!” she positively wailed. Another remarked how she was a social butterfly and just wanted to be able to go out to lunch with a friend, without having to mask up, go and stand 6 feet apart, buy the take-out to take home, heat it up, do the dishes. That is not a fun outing, nor a relaxing way to socialize with food.

I’m becoming my mother. I’ve realized this during lockdown. Rather than read about CV, how many deaths, how many sick, how far away is a vaccine, I find myself running away from all serious news, just as she did. I casually flick through all that muck, plus the obituaries of course, on my online device and delve into the new books to be bought, holidays to be taken, meals to be made amidst all the lifestyle and literary pages. My book stack has already grown a sister and is spilling all over the place. I keep finding more books I must buy. And don’t even go there with the Kindle thing! Can’t do it. Not the same at all.

My friend, over the course of eight short weeks, has become a baker and is bemoaning the lack of flour to be purchased. Flour, really? We have gone from toilet paper hoarding, to paper towel and now flour shortages? One friend of mine noted that she had become completely round during lockdown. She had found so many delicious things to bake like banana bread, chocolate biscuit cake and apple crumble (with custard) that she couldn’t imagine what she was going to do when she had to actually leave the house and go to work again — paid — and not just search the online stores for flour and bake at will in her lovely country kitchen.

Oh, and the gardening trend. Everyone is gardening these days. Even those with the off-green fingers are having a go and even yours truly, a total non-gardener, could be seen to be doing a little therapeutic weeding on occasion, grabbing hold of those viciously persistent lil grassy monsters and enjoying ripping out their roots. (I miss my therapist, can you tell?)

Yes, in two short-long months, the world has gone completely bonkers and none of us know where we will be going from here. It’s the biggest ol’ muddle that most of us have seen in our lifetimes. So … what to do when we are not baking or gardening, or buying more books? We can chat to our friends — on Zoom, Facetime or any other which way. That doesn’t require a mask. We can dream about holidays in our newly purchased bathing suits, one day, and cruising along retail aisles that are not at the dollar or grocery store. We can even imagine, somewhere along the cliff edge of stage 5 lockdown, enjoying a nice meal with friends at a restaurant.

There are many things beyond our control during these strange days. Within our control is that we can strive to be cheery and look on the bright side of life. We are still here; still mostly smiling … and sometimes even making ourselves laugh out loud.

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