The other day I thought that a nice baked banana bread would be the very thing to ease our restless, confined souls in the quarantine zone. Banana bread is something I have made for years from memory. Baking it was always like second nature. I was imagining the warm, sweet soft bread with a hot cup of tea, the ultimate comfort food. So I was surprised when I made the batter and it was dry. I folded into the baking pans and I couldn’t figure out why the texture was so crumbly. And after it baked, only rising a little, I was perplexed at what had gone wrong, mentally checking off each ingredient, until I realized…I had forgotten to add the bananas.
I am guessing this may come as no surprise to many people as we enter multiple weeks under quarantine, settling in to try to ride out the pandemic of the century. Being together is a type of litmus test. Each day we are face to face with not only ourselves but whoever we are in the zone with if you are with anyone. I fret about those living alone. I am grateful for a hand to hold, for someone to laugh with to try to dispel the fear that is underlying all of our days right now. I worry about our mental and emotional health as well as our physical one. We forget things, we leave things undone. We are in a holding pattern, each day stretching out like the next.
What we are realizing is that both the body and the mind can dull from time spent in the same space day after day. We had taken for granted so many freedoms as we went about our daily lives. Quarantine takes a lot of soul searching. How entitled we had been to just come and go as we pleased! How fortunate to find whatever we desired in a store! Now we are faced with ourselves and it’s time to rethink. It’s time to make some drastic changes to adapt to this new normal. Because what will we all be like when we come out of our homes and start to live in the world again?
One of my favorite memes during this time of quarantine is the one which says that in 3 weeks we will know everyone’s true hair color. Such truth in that! Other funny memes show people changing from day pajamas to night pajamas, nails growing long and unkempt or working remotely in the nude. We keep no usual hours, reading books or watching movies into the wee hours of the morning, sleeping in because why not? Yet there is a definite mindfulness to what I do each day now. Careful with wasting food or using too much toilet paper. Resources have become more precious. Not taking for granted that what we need or want at the store will be on the shelves. Cautious.
It’s that very mindfulness that has me writing more and starting to learn French again. Cleaning out old spaces we have crammed with things left for later. Rediscovering sheet music in the piano bench from when my son was learning music. Artwork from my daughter’s elementary school, Lego ships, and kits of gel pens, photos where we look so very young and innocent. It’s like uncovering a treasure trove of memories. What a beautiful life we have had!
Why is this happening now? We have been very careless with the natural resources we have been gifted with by Mother Earth and now have been sent to our rooms in the most definitive way. Indeed stories abound of earth healing everywhere, of pollution clearing out of the air where thousands have been forced into quarantine. Fantastical tales of dolphins swimming in the Venice Canals and flowers blooming in landfills because human interaction has been stifled. Strange days always bring strange portents, signs of things to come. But some of those tales are not true. And if we are to get through these dark days we must seek the truth. No mud, no lotus has forever been my guiding principle. And yet I can see the buds of those beautiful lotus blooms poking through the mud we are slogging through now. Hope.
I am grateful for many things in this time of quarantine. I am grateful for technology because I can talk with and see my children, my family, my loved ones. I have a safe home. I have time on my hands, so much time to reflect and read and look toward the future as I cherish the past. I have time to bake, food ever binding as comfort, as tradition, as culture and family and life. Even if we are a few bananas short of a recipe, something new comes. My accidental bread is a sweet, crunchy biscuit, perfect with that cup of tea. We can adjust and adapt. Dancing at midnight. A good book at 3 am. Breakfast for dinner. Chocolate whenever. The days are ours to spend as we wish.
I know how fortunate I am to be able to say this. So many are not in my situation. This week my state was ordered to Shelter in place. Life in quarantine is lonely and stifling and confining. But it can also be what we make it…peaceful and happy and content to just be. In it together. We are all in the same boat, no matter gender, race or religion. This virus doesn’t care who or where it chooses to flourish. We can only beat it together. Stay safe, friends! Strive to find beauty and light in this dark time. This too shall pass.