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The Enjoyable Ways I Get Through COVID-19 Social Distancing as a Blind Person

My friend Angel’s promise for next weekend was “as much fun as we can have in a pandemic.” It had already been the most hopeful week in the last seven

Monday night, poets met on Zoom for the last week of poetry month. Darrell read a disturbing poem about need and desire to stay away from people. In Monday’s mail, I received BARD (audio) books downloaded by generous Council of the Blind members. Four chapter members got such books. Thank God for mail delivery.

I joyously inserted the cartridge into the player. The first book would be over 13 hours long. I listened in bed until sleep stole my hearing. (The player has a sleep timer.)

Resonance of Darrell’s poem lingered into Tuesday. When will those of us over 65 be able to be in society? I walked to an upbeat music choice channel. I need more exercise. I need warmer and sunnier.

There was nowhere to go until Vicky called. “I need to go grocery shopping. Have you been anywhere yet?” “No,” I said.

“I’ll take you.”

I was surprised. This was an offer to sighted guide (hold someone’s arm and walk with them). There’s nothing better than an offer.

I did ask, “are you sure you want me that close?”

“That’s fine,” Vicky said without hesitation. “We’ll wear masks.”

In the car (imagine being in a car), I voiced ramifications. “The store counts people and I’m not literally necessary to shop.”

We waited outside in the beautiful sunshine for several minutes. I wouldn’t have cared if they didn’t let us in. I got a five-minute car ride and sun!

We approached the man permitting entrance to the treasure trove. “You can see we can’t stand six feet apart,” Vicky said. My white cane was extended.

“Yes, I can see that,” he said.

In we went… to Double Stuf Oreos, blueberries, cucumbers, and rotisserie chicken salad. We both shopped. Almost an hour in the store. Deli cases were empty with an ordering screen. But there were lots of prepackaged items. The bakery was the same. (Did I mention peanut butter whoopie pies?)

Vicky narrates to see what she can talk me into buying. I just need a good narrator to get in trouble. Exercise, retail therapy and choosing things at will. Normally my weekly helper, Terry,  shops from a wish list.

Next morning, spring tried to be definite. The automated system said my electric bill was lower than expected. I like getting bills before people who depend on print.

I worked with Angel (my computer wizard). We work by phone now. I watched (listened to) the Motherland series about the witches of Fort Salem. It’s hard to follow without description. Someday I must discover how to enable video description from my cable box. For now, I pay attention, guess and try to distinguish voices that all sound too alike.

Next morning, my email said I had three bylines. I feel publication is an omen that I’m worth my survival.

Brenda bought a fifth of hand sanitizer. It looks like a fifth of drinking alcohol except it doesn’t slosh around. And she brought “the best treat of the day” (not counting bylines). Glazed knots from our local bakery. How can they be essential enough to be open?

NASA televised a conference naming three companies to build lunar landers.

My hair is longer. It is never long. Will I look different? Will I adapt? Hair as metaphor for change.

Friday morning, Terry brought groceries. We cleaned out the big filing cabinet and reorganized stationary supplies and CDs. I’m downsizing to move to a community setting. Good thing I’m not there yet.

Terry reads mail, takes laundry, does big housework.

Then NASA briefing — SpaceX discussing their first crew launch in America since 2011. I run a NASA board on Livewire’s phone system. So I took notes and recorded crew voices. This will be late May heroism to look forward to.

Saturday was gorgeous for Angel’s promised fun. We would stop at the thrift shop and then get chai. (I love chai.) She and daughter, Eva, bid online via Instagram to pick things up curbside at the store.

Dunkin’ Donuts has a big parking lot where we loitered, sun roof open. Some things, like chai, should be made by other hands. Chai from my quiet kitchen is never as good.

I pushed my mask up to drink. It covered my eyes. Eva shimmied in and out of shirts and dresses in the backseat, trying not to be noticed by the guy in the other car. Angel drank some matcha, and she didn’t act playful, I said she was the one who seemed sane.

We went to the drive through a second time to buy munchkins, which they were out of. Eva said, “Nothing just happens.” We laughed and I imagined the stories the car-guy and the Dunkin’ employees would tell when they got home.

New week: New book. Well Connected in California sent their latest Braille catalog of telephone classes. I am more hopeful after getting out of the apartment.

Checked on people. Matched my to-do list with my calendar. “Nothing just happens.”

Disasters exacerbate people’s inabilities. And we are all only as successful as our support systems. And sometimes, Terry brings little lobster rolls from the Dollar Store just because she can.

I like things that can’t move on my schedule. Must-do activities provide traction. Time can get sluggish.

Brianna reads on Zoom. “She’s made it this far and sometimes that’s enough.” Her “far” and my “far” are different lengths and risks but I precisely understand this. Lucille Clifton says celebrate that “everyday, something tries to kill me, and fails.”

Snow flurries this May weekend. How are we invisible and visible and valuable?

I am rediscovering my CD collection. I watch less news. June 4 is our next potential opening day in Eastern Pennsylvania. It won’t open much for older people.

A neighbor just brought me a Braille document delivered by UPS and left in the lobby. I would never have found it.

Luck, gratitude, Devil Dogs. Onward!

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Getty image by Lucigerma.