Even without the familiar road, there remains so much work to do. Life at home is only life with one’s long list of to-dos up closest to our periphery.
There is food to put on the table. And there are dishes to clean. There is fresh coffee to warm up. And there is old coffee to throw out.
There is sweeping to do, in every room you can find. There is mail to sift through. Mail continues coming in each day.
There is opening up this mail, the most important-looking one first.
There is mulling over the response, leaving the inconvenience for another time.
There is checking the phone, visiting the usual pages, refreshing them, then getting pulled into their warp for another minute, then another minute, then one more.
There is putting the phone down, recalling life outside of virtual reality. There is taking a deep breath, then musing over what’s next.
There is a second meal to prepare. The more substantive, consequential, and by extension more costly meal.
There is opening the fridge, gathering what can be found, then recalling what’s missing.
There is a trip to the store to consider. There is checking the wallet. There is recalling what else is supposed to be saved for this week. There is checking the news. When will that stimulus check come again?
There is that other form in the mail again. The one opened yesterday and which was supposed to have been responded to by today. There is putting it off for just a minute longer.
There is the missing ingredient that still needs to be sought after.
There is putting shoes on.
There is putting a sweater on.
There is putting a face mask on.
Finally there is getting ready to head out the door. But then there is suddenly needing to visit the bathroom. There is stalling at the bathroom.
There is growling bubbling up, dryness stiffening, impatience taking root.
There is finally heading out the doorway, locking the door, then opening the gate and locking the gate behind.
There is the openness of a new day outside to take in.
Then there is a rush we are reminded of. There is hurrying up to the store, finding the tomatoes firmly in reach, wrapping our bags around them, then heading into line.
There is the line to wait through, carefully, cautiously, acceptingly, if possible.
There is mulling over whether or not to check the phone again while waiting in line. There is deciding otherwise.
There is listening to the side-chatter, the registers opening and closing, and watching the traffic outside swerve by. There is wondering if life might always be this way from now on, steeped in uncertainty, or if it’s only been this way and it’s just that we’re now far more aware of it.
There is our turn at the register. There is exchanging our greetings, waiting patiently but also cautiously for our change. There is wondering if the change is worth the wait and risk. There is taking the risk and placing the change into the wallet.
There is getting back home again, locking the door behind us, then placing our things down and rushing to the bathroom to wash our hands.
There is returning to the kitchen, rinsing the sink, then taking out everything we gathered earlier, and finally placing the tomatoes alongside.
There is turning on the stove, placing the pot over the flames, filling it with water inside, then cutting up the tomatoes, the onions, and the celery. There is placing them all inside.
There is looking through the window, hearing the tunes of the birds, recalling that we’re still alive again.
There is taking a deep breath again. There is another chirping sound again.
There is friendship on the other side, reflecting another tenderness through the times.
There is gratitude gradually shifting the whole being.
There is the scent of boiling onions, celery, and tomatoes filling the air.
There is recalling that form in the mail, with a minute after all this time.
There is filling out the response, at long last, filling it out.
There is still placing it into the envelope, finding and placing the stamp on the envelope, then placing the envelope out for pickup, and other work to do.
But first, there is the second meal again.
The longer-prepping meal, but by extension also longer-filling meal. The more rewarding meal of the day. Ahead, there is still another day just getting started.