True story. I’ve gained five pounds in the last seven weeks. The #quaratine15 is real. I should be upset. Instead, I’m tickled with laughter by the weight gain. It seems like a crazy response, but I don’t know how else to cope. Food comforts me in a way nothing else can. While some might be drinking more heavily, I'm eating more heavily. I’ve always oscillated between being too stressed to eat and eating too much because of stress. Stuck and home, where snacks are aplenty, I’m clearly practicing the latter. Morning toast with a thick slab of salted butter? Why not!? Fried Rice made up of leftover chicken from the night before? Yes, please! Hearty lasagna, thick with Italian sausage, creamy ricotta, and mozzarella. You bet! Part of the humor in the situation is that I have consistently kept up my workouts. They’ve actually gone up in frequency given all the free workouts being live-streamed on Instagram. They just cannot combat the amount of sugar and processed carbohydrates I’m taking in. COVID-19 has changed so much of our everyday lives. I don’t know how to be mad at myself for indulging in a thin, crispy, Chips Ahoy cookie.
Our everyday routines have been upended. I can’t actually remember the last full night sleep I got in my own bed. Instead, I’ve been downgraded to a crib-sized mattress on the floor next to Miles. Coinciding with the onset of the Stay At Home orders and my increased anxiety, Miles began waking every night, mirroring what Tess has already been doing for the past two and a half years. Miles would not settle until one of us went to his room and laid beside him. Naptime has shifted, bedtime is later. Work stopped completely for me and then came back on part-time. The transition to full-time child care providers has been particularly difficult given my introverted nature. The invasion of personal space does not quit. My senses are constantly assaulted with sound. And although we can technically leave the house, there isn’t anywhere to go. Restrictions are starting to loosen across America, but I still don’t feel safe. The slow opening feels too soon. At the same time, though, I haven’t been able to calm the surging wave of restlessness. Though I felt as close to at peace as I could manage early on, this week I’ve begun to find it more and more difficult to feel at ease with the continued loss of control and dynamic shift from what I knew as normal. Though I say all this, I’m keenly aware that we are lucky to shelter at home while many are out on the front lines. The reality is that everyone’s quarantine experience is different and valid.
I long for groggily waking up in my own bed to the buzz of my iPhone alarm. Beep, beep, beep. I can see it now, my left hand reaching out to tap the face of my phone. Snooze. Beep, beep, beep. Snooze. I eventually turn onto my left side, stretch out my limbs, and rise from bed. In days passed, what ultimately would have roused me out of bed would be Miles, not my alarm, trapped in his crib yelling, “Mooooommmmmy” over and over again. I’d make my way to his room and open the door to see his delighted, snaggle-toothed grin. Letting him loose after the requisite diaper change, I’d be alone in his room and turn to my right. My closet.
The famous American fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, known for his street photography famously said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” I have thought about this frequently over the last few days. I’m in need of my armor. Only in my pajamas, activewear, or loungewear all day long, I’ve cut off a passion of mine. It’s been seven weeks of muted creative expression. So I will start small and endeavor to get dressed on the days I “go” to work. I imagine fingering through the top hanging portion of my closet, color-coordinated by silhouette. Sleeveless tops are hanging to the left followed by short sleeves, dresses and jumpsuits, long sleeve casual tops, shirts, and sweaters. Skirts, shorts, and a mish-mosh of other categories hang directly below the tank tops and short sleeves. Jeans are folded into three neat piles at the base of the closet along with loungewear. Will the jeans even fit? Maybe. Will they be comfortable? Probably not. As I sit here, I'm imagining what Monday’s outfit will be. I might opt for light wash denim shortalls with a white, cotton tank top underneath. Classic and comfortable. Or am I looking for more flair? A casual, animal print baby doll dress might do the trick. Or do we go with a modern, trend-driven twist on the shortalls? A washed black denim skirtall with a ribbed, camel-colored bodysuit underneath. The possibilities are endless. I miss my closet, I miss my clothes, I miss pre-COVID-19 days. I'm ready to put my makeup on, do my hair, don my long, heather-grey jersey maxi dress stretch my arms out, and feel the freedom of days lost. But, thanks to COVID-19, that's not going to happen any time soon. What I’m definitely not ready for right now are the jeans.