My introduction to hand sanitizer came in the fall of 2006. My dad had been hospitalized with an unknown condition and was being kept in a reverse isolation room. When we entered and left the room we had to pump a viscous liquid held in a little black container on the wall onto our hands and rub it around for about 30 seconds. I hated it. It smelled terrible and felt worse. It burned. And after a few days at the hospital my hands were as chapped as if I’d been playing in the snow without mittens for about a month. If someone would have told me that a scant 14 years later I’d be carrying a tiny bottle of the stuff in my pocket on a daily basis, using it frequently as if I were addicted, I’d have told them they were out of their tiny minds. Dad passed shortly after that hospitalization but hand sani is still around. It’s not only in my pocket, but it, and other disinfecting type items, such as peroxide and alcohol reside in my vehicle and are scattered in great abundance around my house, along with larger bottles of the dreaded hand sanitizer. Who’d a thought?

My first introduction to a mask was probably at Halloween in my long ago childhood. I don’t recall any masked costumes but I probably had them. I hate masks. They were hot. It felt hard to breath when one was on my face and the elastic band around my head was uncomfortable. Pulling my hair and hurting my ears. Well geez! Here it’s many years later and masks are still hurting my ears. Mostly because I wear them daily along with hearing aids and “cheaters”. That’s way too much for a human ear to hold behind itself so praise be for friends who are handy with the crochet hook! Cindy and Mary have made me some handy-dandy extenders that have saved the backs of my ears from pain, and possibly the loss of a bunch of money should a hearing aid inadvertently come off with the mask elastic. Who’d a thought?

My introduction to isolation began at the end of my first-grade year. I was sick. Horribly sick with infected tonsils. So sick that I had to be on medication and remain totally at home until I became well enough to have the offending tonsils removed. I missed the entire last month of first grade. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me. I hadn’t liked my teacher particularly much, I’d only made a few friends so had no established peer group and was blessed with three older siblings, a stay at home mom and a dad who was home each and every night. Until I went back to work at the beginning of September, I’d been in a type of isolation too. Off to the grocery store every couple weeks, to the gas station as necessary, but otherwise spent all my time in our home area and at our farm. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me. Maybe some people learn all they need to know about life in kindergarten. Perhaps I learned it in grade one. Who’d a thought?

Social distancing comes naturally to me. I’ve always been a homebody at heart. Oh I can function fine out there in the big old world when I have to, but I’m happiest in my own little korner. Being happy in a relatively small space may have come from my childhood too. Except for school and church we rarely ventured out of the neighborhood except when mom did “big shopping” on Friday evenings. We had the yard to play in, an empty lot across the road, and a boundary in each direction for biking. There were berries to pick close at hand in summer and neighbor’s grandkids to add to our group of playmates. We learned how to be alone and how to handle boredom in such a way that it disappeared from our vocabulary. At least it did from mine. Who’d a thought?

So you’d think I’ve been handling the pandemic with perfect ease wouldn’t’cha? Not so much. Adjusting to this new normal is outside my experience. Navigating without a compass is not as much fun as it was in my childhood. Some lessons just come late I guess.

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