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Why I'm Dressing Up While the World Is Shut Down

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The world as we know it is temporarily shut down. My husband, who used to spend 40 hours a week in a busy shopping mall at his retail job, is now making the transition to working from home. My 12-year-old son is engaging with his classmates through Zoom sessions and completing online assignments.

And me? I’m a former teacher, current writer. I’m used to spending large chunks of the day at home. By myself. Writing.

But now I’m not by myself. And I’m not writing. I’m spending a large portion of the day assisting my son with his studies.

One thing hasn’t changed though. I’m getting dressed each day. And for me, dressed doesn’t merely mean clothes. Getting dressed also includes my jewelry.

I wear a lot of jewelry each day. On my 10 fingers, you’ll find nine rings. I wear a bracelet and a watch on my left wrist, and a bracelet on my right wrist. I wear an anklet around my right ankle. I wear a small pearl earring in the second hole in my right ear. And I wear a necklace and earrings that are either a matching set or close-enough-of-a-match, and not just to each other, but to the shirt I’m wearing that day.

I have friends who are spending these days in pajamas, and friends who are shopping for “leisure clothes.” But I’m getting dressed, putting the same amount of effort and thought into my hair that I would on any other day. A braid? Part in the middle or on the side?

It’s a reminder to myself that this staying-in-the-house business isn’t about me. There have been times when I was too sick to get fully dressed. While I recovered from a muscle biopsy performed on my left calf, I couldn’t wear jeans like I can now. When my autoimmune disease wreaked havoc on my digestive system, and I couldn’t keep anything down for days, I did stay in my pajamas.

But this is different. This is an illness affecting us all in one way or another. An attack on our human race. In a way, this all feels like a giant dose of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are, by definition, the result of the body attacking itself. Hurting itself. And that’s what this time in life feels like. We are hurting ourselves and it’s not easy to find a cure.

In the meantime, I’m getting dressed. I’m going downstairs and helping my son with ratios and percentages (math), reading with him about the history of Buddhism (history), and discussing the consequences of climate change (science).

The world may be shut down. But I’m dressed up.

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

Getty image by Bernjeuer.

Originally published: April 13, 2020
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