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The Official Guide To A 1990s Summer

By Anne T. Donahue

I get it and I understand: the province has moved onto Stage 2, other provinces that are not Ontario are basking in Stage 3, and it’s warm and sunny all the time which makes talking or thinking about a virus seem terrible.

And it is! It is terrible. But as I, the harbinger of doom would like to remind you, COVID isn’t some far-away memory. It’s still very much real and around, and I refuse to engage with it. So I’ve resigned myself to having the summer of my youth. It will be boring, it will be quiet, it will involve not very many people at all, but A) if boredom is my biggest problem I’m very lucky, and B) I’d rather look back on all this and admit I played it way too safe than any other bleak alternative.

So join me. Or read this and laugh at my expensive. I will have a Freezie for you.

Freezies, popsicles, ice cream, frozen pink lemonade, all of them and all the time
I didn’t say any of this would be healthy. I’m in no way about to suggest we spend summer 2020 thinking consciously about how many carbohydrates we’re ingesting. Are you kidding? I refuse. Which is why I ate banana ice cream standing over the counter, out of the carton yesterday. And why I’ve bought no less than 13 000 Freezies since May, and have begun treating them like water. If it was good enough for us at 13, it’s good enough for us now. Last night I ate a Drumstick in bed in front of Real Housewives of New York and that was wonderful because the Housewives are my friends now, and also Drumsticks are delicious.

Phone calls
Not Facetime™, not Zoom, the phone. The old school phone. The phone that some of us (especially me) avoided for months and years because . . . I actually don’t remember anymore. Who did I think I was? Somebody too good for person-to-person communication? Was I too important to hear my friends’ voices? Was I so fragile that I could only handle texts? Get real. The phone rules! I was wrong! I was wrong to hate the phone and I’m ready to admit it. The phone is the best. It’s personal and requires you to actually listen. Granted, you probably know this because I felt like the only person in my group of friends who hated the phone. So laugh at my expense because I was incorrect. Or better yet, do it on the phone with a friend you love but can’t see for a while. You know, like all of us used to in middle school.

Commit to the most comfortable clothes
I have no idea what comfort means for you, but it certainly means jean and jogging shorts and t-shirts for me. I have plucked my wardrobe out of the one I embraced about two decades ago, and I hate myself for spending years of my life wearing anything that didn’t make me feel like I could sit outside and read one minute and . . . well, just keep sitting someplace else. (I was about to say something about working out or doing stretches, but why lie?) Please mistake me for one of the Now & Then characters painting the garage, for I refuse to look any fancier.

Seeing maybe, like, three people
I mean, it’s not like you have to live in isolation. We’re allowed to be socially distant and to convene in public spaces. Am I into this idea? Well, I am paranoid and feel weird about seeing anyone outside my family and the next door neighbours who I see every day. But maybe you’re not. Maybe you want to see every friend in the world. Granted, that’s hugely irresponsible because, well, there’s a pandemic. But there’s the social bubbles and/or the social circles and/or ways of seeing your nearest and dearest without jeopardizing yourself and the masses. And how old school is that. One summer, I saw only three friends regularly (which was whittled down to two when one moved away). Another, I had to wait three weeks while my best pal went with her family on a camping trip in PEI. But that’s the thing: I survived! We all did! We survived our boredom and day-to-days defined by doing Not Very Much All the Time. We got through not doing this, or not going there unless it was absolutely necessary. And we survived those times and made it this far.

Which is the mantra I’m clinging to. As someone who doesn’t live in Toronto, who lives in a small-ish town, and whose friends live all over the place, I can’t really head out and make plans without that nagging feeling that I might be putting my parents (who I’m sheltering in place with) at risk. And I’d rather not. So I remind myself that I’ve had to live low key before. Only before, I didn’t have access to fast internet and couldn’t eat ice cream for lunch or for dinner. Which, by the way, is what I will be helping myself to now.

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

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