I read recently that during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and subsequent quarantine Ernest Hemingway was quarantined with his wife, their son… and his mistress. Six weeks into our own quarantine, that story made me wonder. How on earth could anyone get through this if they were isolated with a person they were angry with or hurt by or just fed up with? Crosby, Stills and Nash’s iconic song “Love the One You’re With” encourages the listener not to pine for a loved one who is not with them but to love the one who is there. But what if you don’t? How do you get through the days?
Don’t get me wrong. I am fortunate to be in quarantine with someone who is the one I love to be with but there are times when we both wish for the old days and ways of life. And of course, for those who are alone during this time, staying positive and upbeat can be especially challenging. The news is dire. It’s scary to go for groceries or necessities. God forbid you would need medical care that’s not virus related (and God forbid if you do!) The very thing that shelters you can also be the one that feels like a prison. And that is where the wine comes in.
We all need to have ways to keep ourselves engaged right now. I am lucky to still have my job and I try to keep a schedule of sorts but the days roll into each other. And by the early evening, I am ready for my glass of wine. It’s then that I tend to slow down the mind games and take in what’s around me. Spring is definitely here so the weather is beckoning, at least to sit out on the deck. But this year in our rock garden of pebbles and paving stones, flowers are blooming from between the rocks. It must have been the pansies in the pots last summer who shed their seeds and now we have beautiful purple and white blooms pushing through. I enjoy that sight with a magical ruby red glass of Tempranillo from Spain.
One day last week (or was it the week before?) my daughter texted me that people in her neighborhood and in other cities were placing teddy bears in their windows so that when cooped up parents and their children went for walks they could have a scavenger hunt of teddy bears. She asked that I take the bear in her room and place it in the window. Each time I see that earnest little bear staring out at the world, I imagine a child seeing her and having his or her own spirits raised. That is definitely a Merlot moment.
I am adamant these days that we sit outside and watch the sunset. Breathe the air, clear our minds, heal ourselves. Definitely the time for a glass of robust Malbec. I so appreciate my local store bringing me the wines of the world to bring variety to the days and the taste of the exotic. There is so much uncertainty right now. New questions every day. Life has taken on different tones. Which goes back to loving the one you’re with. The double-edged sword in this time of isolation is that for better or for worse you really get to know the person you live with. The red wine I love from France called Revelation couldn’t be more appropriate. John Lennon once told us that whatever gets us through the night is okay so I feel everyone needs to do what is best for them. This is a new way of living. I wonder what the days ahead will look like while recalling the expression that the reason a rear view mirror is small is that we should be looking forward through the windshield instead. But I can’t help think. How will we greet each other in our brave new world? Will hugs be a thing again? Human contact has kept the species alive and thriving. Nature is conducting a massive purging right now but then what? I must believe we will be better even as I know it will never be the same.
Sometimes in the hazy glow of too much wine, I wonder at the irony that during this horrible, awful time we finally realize we are all the same. We are all beautiful, powerful, fragile creatures facing a common enemy. However challenging my quarantine may be there are doctors, nurses, food handlers, firefighters, EMT’s all on the front lines, putting themselves in danger so I can drink wine in my own home. But that is my job right now. My responsibility. To stay home, shelter in place, social distance, wear a mask and gloves out so I can protect myself, my loved ones, my community. We have to all do this if we are going to defeat this demon.
I am hopeful for the future but I miss a lot right now. Actually hugging my kids. Casual coffee dates with friends. Music at the local bar. A movie at the cinema. Inviting guests over for dinner. The library. Travel. Joni Mitchell famously sang in her classic “Big Yellow Taxi” that we don’t know what we’ve got until we don’t have it anymore. I must believe that after going through all of this we will be better humans to each other even if life is very different. Maybe it was time for a change. I’ll drink to that.