Carol Starr Schneider
In my tiny quarantine bubble of three, my husband, my dog and me, we make the best sourdough bread you’ve ever tasted. We bake eight-layer chocolate cakes in the shape of a castle. We complete 500-piece puzzles in under an hour. We teach our dog to speak a new language every week. We never argue. We never get bored. We never complain about 2020. We look on the bright side. We are, without a doubt, the greatest, most Zen tiny bubble in our neighborhood, if not, the universe. We deserve global recognition, a Nobel Peace Prize, a Kennedy Center Honor, an Academy Award, for how well we've handled the Pandemic.
Fine. You caught me. None of the above is true. In my real life, I struggle with Bubble Envy. I see your sourdough bread posts, your jigsaw feats, your hand-knitted beanies and embroidered toilet paper cozies for all that Charmin you hoarded. I’m so jealous. I don't have a crafty bone in my body.
In my actual tiny bubble, I’ve done nothing spectacular, and maybe that's okay, too. I've found plenty of ways to occupy my extended stint in "The Twilight Zone: Covid Edition." I watch Netflix a lot. My husband and I drink wine a lot. Together, we eat a lot, cook a lot and yell at the TV a lot. I kvetch a lot. I "zoom" a little. I doom-scroll too much. I have no idea what day, week or month it is. I’ve given up trying to remember anything. Please don’t ask me the name of the book I’m currently reading. I couldn't tell you if my life depended on it. I think my dog is worried about me. He said so in French. Or maybe it was Yiddish. I forget.
Now and then, my tiny bubble expands to include other members of my immediate family, aka the wonderful people keeping me sane. I think Dr. Fauci would approve. Maybe not. If I stretch the definition, they're part of my household. At the end of May, my eldest son and daughter-in-law added an adorable baby girl to the mix. An excellent decision. Those eyes. Those cheeks. That smile. She's the best medicine, the best mood lifter, ever invented. A hug or two and all the problems of the world wash away.
One day, I’ll look back on 2020 and remember my tiny quarantine bubble. I’ll remember the masks I bought and waited months to receive, the ones with Joni Mitchell, RBG, Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and sea turtles. I never wore any of them. I prefer the surgical masks. They make me feel important, like a doctor on “Grey’s Anatomy,” ready for any emergency.
One day, I’ll sort through the bittersweet memories of 2020, the good, the bad and the WTF. I'll remember trying to tamp down the fear, and the monumental effort it took to just live in the moment. One day, maybe next year, if we're lucky, we’ll all step out of our bubbles and rejoice. Till then, stay safe and well and keep baking that sourdough bread. Save me a slice, if you think of it. Or at least, post a nice warm photo.
Carol Starr Schneider is a writer living in California.