Saturday, July 30, 2022

Unexpected after effects of the pandemic

After effects other than the obvious—the devastating loss of life and, for many, income. And yes, I do know that it is not over yet.

I have been very fortunate that no one close to me suffered the worst of the impact. All have been vaccinated and while most did contract COVID, that was after vaccination and therefore, not severe. What I found interesting was that most of them contacted the virus through school going kids. So no, kids were not as badly impacted as the adults, their parents were.

After over two years of remaining as isolated as possible I have noticed a number of changes in the way I live my life now. Of course, some of that could be attributed to being retired, but I do believe most of it is lack of human interaction aka lockdown. I also believe this will be the new norm.

In March 2020, as the pandemic took hold, Larry and I decided to isolate ourselves in our condo in Lago Vista. Mildred had already moved out of the house we bought when she moved in with us, we sold it. For the next fourteen months I worked from home. I retired from Amazon in May 2021, over a year ago. Not much changed, the main difference was that I sat at my desk all day doing my own thing, and not Amazon's.

Our condo is in a small gated community of mostly weekenders. Weekenders that is, during the summer months. From October to April it is extremely quiet; only a very few live here full time. We rarely interact with them and luckily, we never were party animals so, no great loss. We took the pandemic very seriously. It was serious, even if most of Texas seemed to not believe in it. We stayed home, did curbside shopping for groceries and online for everything else and wore masks where ever we went which was almost nowhere as I said. 

We did that for over a year, until we got both shots. After that we continued to wear masks and still do when in public. We kept our human interaction to a minimum. Stayed away from the dentist and stopped our allergy shots. If we needed to visit the doctor we did telemedicine where possible. It is not possible to social distance and get your hair or nails done. So I stopped these habits also. In fact, going for our first COVID vaccine was somewhat overwhelming, we were just not used to being around so many people.

If you know me, you probably know that I have the mouth of a sailor. I had to have some restraint when I was working, in the office. After over two years of speaking to almost no one but Larry—he is even more 'sailor fluent' than I am—I have lost that restraint. This is something I will need to work on reverting back to more socially acceptable behavior.

I have not worn make up since March 2020. What make up I had back then is most likely unusable at this point, it was already well aged. I have no intention of ever going back to wearing it. The time and money saved is only part of the reason. I just don't see any point in painting my face, for what? To pretend I am not old? That won't work! I am too far gone there.

The result is that my hair has grown longer than it has been since I was a child and wore it in braids; and my nails are now short but much stronger. I tie my hair up in a pony tail and regularly file my nails. The savings here are even more than for the make up I no longer buy. An educated guess is that I save over $2K per year on just hair, nails and make up. That is just the monetary savings. The amount of time saved is quite staggered too. If you take into account travel time to and from the various appointments, plus applying and then removing makeup.

We almost never go out to eat anymore. Prior to the pandemic we used to eat out at least one evening per week, frequently two, plus we often went out for breakfast on Saturdays. That stopped completely and we somehow broke the habit. Now we just don't even think about it.

Add no commute time to all the rest of the time I have saved—not to mention all that gas money, I now have time to give to my treadmill and yoga practice. With the drastic reduction in social contact, my natural introvert tendencies have flourished and I am very comfortable spending long hours with my computer and / or my husband; avoiding all other human beings. All that has now become the new norm and I have no plans to return to previous habits.

We had booked a trip to Vegas for our joint birthday celebration in September of 2021, thinking that fully vaccinated and with the virus appearing to wane, we would be OK to do that. However, when September came around things were not looking good and new strains of the virus were being reported so we cancelled Vegas. We did get a few days in Seattle for Christmas 2021, I was nervous about that but all went well and we got to finally see some of my family. We tested when we got home and all was well.

How many other people have had the same, or similar changes? There is an impact. I know I am just one person, but if I have dropped all that superfluous spending, how many others have too? All those businesses who had to shut their doors during the worst of the pandemic and are now trying to rebuild, they have lost customers who will never return. 

Finally I am heading to Ireland soon to see the rest of my family. I have not seen them in over three years and this is the longest I have gone without a visit home since 1994 when I first came to the US. Again, I am very nervous about it, I will wear a mask traveling; I don't care what the rules are, I will do what I can to protect not just myself, but also my family. 

Hopefully the mask will muffle any foul language that might slip out, or perhaps it will also remind me to keep my mouth shut.