A List Of Things I Will Do When Quarantine Lifts

This week in Ontario, we got about an inch closer to living life a fraction of the way we remember it. (Curbside pickup, baby! But also: how is that going to work, and I’m already overwhelmed, and you know what? I’ll just shop online for a while I think and by “shop online” I mean “look at websites and buy nothing because I am terrified that I won’t have any money in about a month from now.)

And for the record, I’m not ready for whatever “normal” is now or for us to congregate in crowds or press resume on a reality that doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, I’m afraid! I’m nervous and apprehensive and want very much to shout, “Viruses don’t care about how much work we put in! Let’s go super slow!” But I won’t, because I think a good part of these feelings reflect my own neuroses, and to combat them I will take baby steps and choose to nap my way through my inevitable meltdowns. (Our brains! Forever changed!) I will not project them onto anybody else, and I will accept that all of us feel a million ways because none of us have gone through a pandemic before. Everybody feels like a mess and we’re all cursed whirlpools of emotions. Just please, for the love of all that is good, don’t stop washing your hands.

But in these moments (of despair) I’ve started thinking more and more about the little things I miss that stray from the norm of hugging friends, family, and eating the same table as all of them. My world as small (as we’ve already discussed), and now so are my aspirations. So in the spirit of raindrops on roses (weak) and whiskers on kisses (adorable), these are what I’ve put on my mental vision board whenever I think about what I want so badly to do again.

Again, seeing friends and family are already assumed. I’m not a monster.

Thrift stores

Think about it. Think about the aisles of second hand clothes, the stories each t-shirt tells, and the joy of finding a dress from 1994 that fits perfectly despite it being listed as the wrong size for some reason. Toss me into that waiting pile of shorts and skirts that smell like decades-old cigarette smoke and fabric softener that reminds me of being little. This is my home now. Let me drift to sleep in rayon and polyester.

Sitting on a bench

Any bench. Any bench will do. I would like to sit on a bench and watch the world pass me by, and I would like that bench not to be the one at the cemetery by my Nana’s grave. Not because I don’t like sitting there (it’s so beautiful!) but because I think at this point she’s getting sick of me.

Touching merchandise

My friend Carla is the originator behind this reminder, but wow what a dream-thought to get us through a Thursday afternoon: touching items in stores. Do you intend to buy them? Not even slightly. But think about the splendor of picking up something you think is kind of alright, seeing the price tag, then thinking, “Ugh – no.” My kingdom for this moment. My universe for the privilege to putting my hands on an overpriced shirt and thinking, “Oh, that actually feels pretty cheap.”

Trying on anything

I have no idea what size I wear in real pants anymore. Not a clue. I have some jeans I got right before quarantine, but they’re a little bit snug, and I’d rather be comfortable than stop snacking in hopes of pouring myself into a lesser size. (Also, I love snacking. So: two things.) And this wouldn’t be a problem if I could descend on the mall and try on some shorts. But guess what: I cannot. And so in my spare time I’ve come to think about the splendor of picking up armfuls of discounted denim and thinking, “Okay! Let’s see what fits!” Instead, I’ve ordered some jeans online. Will they fit? There’s no way to tell. This is choose your own adventure, but each adventure is boring as hell.

Talking about anything but the pandemic

Don’t you dare get me wrong: until we’re 100% better and cured and science has saved us, I will only be talking about the pandemic. Are you kidding me? This is nightmare-history. But one day, I can’t wait to talk only about the stupidest possible shit. I can’t wait to complain about something that doesn’t matter at all. This week, I got a sunburn and then heat stroke or sun poisoning or something (a nightmare) because I figured SPF didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. This was an idiot thing to think, and guess what: who cares. Will people care when this is all over? Of course not. (Imagine caring about a 34-year-old woman’s lack of sun protection.) But the beauty is that I will pretend that it does. Which will give everybody else something to talk about: mainly, that I really make a big deal out of nothing, what’s wrong with me.


Old school boredom. The kind of boredom we do not feel right now. Am I bored? Oh, I’m bored, but I’m bored in a way that also walks the line between pure and utter panic. Real boredom only ends in the purchase of something you absolutely didn’t need to buy, or in the consumption of a freakish amount of ice cream. Pandemic boredom is sitting, perfectly still, staring at a blank wall because you feel frozen. I can’t wait to feel bored, and then to complain about said boredom. “So go to the movies!” my mom will suggest. And to that I will say, “Ugh, no, I’m too tired” and end up watching Real Housewives until I fall asleep, holding my cat who desperately wants to escape me.

Real boredom. The finest treat. A beautiful thing. One day we will have it. But first, let me imagine falling into a pile of day dresses from 1965.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, COVID-19, top story, topstory

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