Rainy Side View: The new normal amidst COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but after eight weeks of self-isolation at home, I’m getting used to it.

Waking up every morning with no place to go and nothing to do other than sew masks, my main challenge has been figuring out meals with whatever is in the cupboard. Otherwise, it’s a fast trip to the grocery store with face cover and hand sanitizer.

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Nah! I’ll just stay home and eat SPAM.

SPAM musubi made the New York Times list of what to cook during this pandemic. And my son in Ohio says that for the first time, he’s seeing cases of it in shopping carts. How’s that for Hawaii’s favorite meat-in-a-can making a comeback on the continent? But I’ll wait for him to report a run on Vienna Sausage before I panic over potential shortages.

It’s commendable how quickly we’ve modified our behavior with this virus. Before the pandemic, many of us wondered why it took so long for certain negative attitudes to change, but this is proof that our ability to evolve can take not centuries, not decades, not years. We can do it in a month!

I am sorry to report, however, that not all new behaviors are positive ones. For example, there are days when I completely forget to tend to my makule falling-down body. Since I’m not going anywhere, there’s nothing to remind me to polish pearly whites or fix boroboro.

Some mornings I stay in pajamas until noon, never fearing the knock on the door from a stranger wanting to talk religion or making a website delivery. Oops, scratch that last one, because true to my dinosaur DNA, I don’t shop online. Rather than sit at the computer on my fat ‘okole, I prefer to go to town. Besides, it reminds me to brush teeth, change clothes, comb hair.

So now that businesses are opening up, I’m in a quandary. I like to shop local, but am in the senior population who should continue to stay at home. Small stores make up the fabric of any community, and it is my fervent hope that they will survive such dire times. Besides, I also want my hard-earned money to stay in these islands so I’m fretting, fearful that this evil virus is part of a diabolical plan to force dinosaurs to go digital. How can I self-isolate and support local? Send suggestions!

But my dilemma is nothing compared to those of essential workers reporting for duty every day to take care of us and our needs. Wish I could personally thank each and every one, so if by chance you are reading this before heading off to your perilous job, let me express deepest and heartfelt gratitude for your commitment. Mahalo piha and malama pono.

I also worry about those who want to report to work but there is no job for them to go to. If only I could say something more encouraging other than “this too shall pass,” which can’t be very comforting for those now idling at home with bills to pay and children to feed. All the more reason why we need to support local businesses so folks can get back to work.

We can and should debate official government responses to the virus from Washington, D.C., Hawaii state and Hawaii County, because we now have solid proof that not all leaders can lead. Perhaps the only clear hope we have in this indefensible mess is the election in November.

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It is one thing to look forward to.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears every other Monday.

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