CAPPY HALL REARICK
Some of my friends are fighting a hard battle with depression.
“We’re tired of sheltering in place,” they say, “sick of the isolation. There’s nothing to look forward to except another day just like the day before.”
I get it. If it were not for my seven-day pill container staring at me each morning, it would be easy to believe I’m on a hamster wheel stuck in a lifetime of Mondays.
After it was announced that all America was in danger of getting and spreading Covid-19, I hid. I listened to Dr. Fauci when he said that seniors like me were the highest risks. Fauci became my guru, my main man. I followed his rules. If Tony said don’t do it, I didn’t do it. I wore a mask and washed my hands till the skin fell off. I cut my own hair with a pair of dull scissors. I even gave up mani-pedis.
Once a week, I left my house to go to the one grocery store in town telling customers to wear a mask or shop elsewhere. On days when I wasn’t buying food, I spent them resembling Willie Wonka’s grandfather who only got out of bed for free chocolate.
My once a week outing made it necessary for me to wear clothes. Real clothes. Not pajamas. Not sweats with stains down the front from bacon grease spatter. Real honest-to-Goodness clothes with buttons, zippers and waistbands. I could have gone formal, but even in the South where being over-dressed is more often the norm, formal attire was over the top.
I was born and raised as a Fifties Southern Belle which means that belles don’t even pick up the mail without doing their hair and fixing their face. It means that wandering through the day with pink sponge curlers in your hair is a sure-fire way to get the label of trash. We were taught to fix up. If we didn’t, we just didn’t leave the house.
After months of not fixing up except when the cupboard was bare and my husband was starving, I didn’t like the person I’d become. And what about Babe, my patient life partner? He must have been sick of me looking like a cartoon Maxine.
The day I realized that a stranger was gradually taking over my body was the day my friends confessed their own depression. They slept ten to twelve hours at night and schlepped around during the day wearing ragged sweat pants and worn out tees. I saw myself in them; time to do something.
So I got dressed EVERY day. I washed and blew my hair dry EVERY day. I fixed my face EVERY day. I wore outfits with matching socks even if I didn’t wear shoes. I became a home-grown, homebound fashionista. At first, I did it because I wanted Babe’s last sight of me to be a good one in case one of us dropped dead. Later, I did it because it made me feel better about myself.
I fought depression in other ways too. Five o’clock every day became a time for Babe and me to sit together and sip watered-down martinis and munch hors d’oeuvres. Setting aside a special time with no television or cell phones to yank us away from each other took a chunk out of isolation’s endless hours.
When he smiled at me over a martini glass, I felt pretty. When the love of my life told me things about his loves before we met, I felt closer to him. When he told me about Aunt Dot, a world-class beauty who was married five times, I was aghast.
I looked forward to creating fun appetizers, some even good enough for inclusion in the church cookbook, others I hoped wouldn’t clog up the disposal.
Do I want my life back? You bet. But I’m not fool enough to think that when this horrible virus is behind us, things will return to the way they were. They won’t.
In the meantime, I will fight depression by fixing up each morning even when it’s not a grocery day. I’ll create hors d’oeuvres for our five o’clock ritual and sing while Alexa plays soft jazz so that Babe and I can be alone together and share.
I refuse to let Covid-19 dominate what is left of my life.
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