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anne mikolay 2018Staying at home/social distancing inevitably leads to cabin fever which, in turn, sends my mind aimlessly bouncing from thought to thought.

Thought one: When I read Bruce Springsteen said sheltering in place has him missing his favorite hotdogs at The Windmill, I started thinking about all the things I miss, like strawberries - big, fat, juicy strawberries. And vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, Celestial Seasonings lemon tea, and Hershey’s dark chocolate. I miss going to the supermarket (without PPE!) anytime I need to replenish my stock of these comfort foods. I miss dashing to the craft store for wool, canvas, or paint, and searching the aisles for new materials to spark my creativity. I miss taking myself to lunch and chatting with people doing the same. I miss going to the theater without worrying if the guy coughing next to me has asthma or is unknowingly spreading Covid-19.

I miss greeting strangers with cute dogs and asking to pet their pups. I miss going to the bookstore and flipping through book after book or picking up my mail without worrying if the person who handled these items before me was wearing gloves. I miss waking up knowing I can go anywhere anytime I want to. Most especially, I miss my family. I miss seeing them and hugging them, a spiritual necessity without which I am diminished. I miss the days when I did not know what PPE stood for, and social distancing and sheltering in place were unheard of. I miss the days when “flatten the curve” might have been a euphemism for dieting, and when I didn’t care what people in Italy or Spain were doing. In other words, I miss my old life.

Thought two: While Springsteen misses hotdogs and Asbury Park, Jon Bon-Jovi, per his recent interview with Howard Stern, is “scared to death” of Covid-19 each time he washes dishes in his Red Bank Soul Kitchen. Jon’s son had coronavirus, as did Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. CNN’s Chris Cuomo and his wife, and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and his wife, presently have or had the virus. Apparently, the pandemic does not discriminate. Those we might think reside in ivory towers far removed from the trials of the average life are not immune to hardship. Nobody is. Everybody is at risk.

Thought Three: I remain baffled by those who still believe the pandemic is a hoax or not as dangerous as depicted. There are people on facebook claiming the number of deaths reported daily are fake. To put it bluntly, how stupid can some people be? Bodies are piling up in hospital hallways and makeshift morgues, but apparently that’s not proof enough for diehard conspiracy theorists. Additionally, I don’t comprehend the mindset that purports self distancing is solely a tool to advance government control. I don’t understand the rush to “reopen” the country or the insistence that churches should remain open for worship. Yes, our personal liberties are currently restricted, the economy is severely impacted, and the desire/need to worship in a church remains strong. Nevertheless, this is a temporary situation demanding wisdom, patience, and consideration. Call me naive, but I can’t put a price tag on human life, and I don’t need to sit in a church to worship. Let’s not forget Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” ( Luke 17:21), nor should we forget that some people, like me, have loved ones working in the healthcare system and loved ones with compromised immune systems. For these people, and for all the brave doctors/nurses/healthcare workers and essential workers out there, we must be diligent, patient, and abide by self distancing and its associated restrictions. Protect yourself and others! Stay safe! Stay home!

Thought Four: I have a box of cereal in the kitchen, but no strawberries. I miss strawberries. I can’t run to the store for strawberries, or tea, or candy, or cake, or anything, without donning PPE, standing in line, or making what amounts to a reservation to pick up my groceries - my strawberries! My hodgepodge of pandemic-induced thought has come full circle, as things often do. Here’s wishing we all come full circle as quickly and safely as possible, back to living without fear - or PPE!