Wash, rinse, repeat. Retirement + COVID = boring.

by Kathy Larson

Yes, this is another one of those laments about how COVID 19 has affected life. My life.

I woke up this morning and the first thought to pop in my head was: wash, rinse, repeat. I knew I was thinking about the day ahead. And it wasn’t going to be about doing laundry.

I retired a couple of years ago and so far I’ve enjoyed not having to live according to a work schedule. I got through the honeymoon phase all right — sleeping in, staying up late, reading books ALL day, then moved into the ‘it’s 5 o’clock somewhere’ phase with total enthusiasm and now I’m in the ‘so, what will I do today?’ phase.

Let me tell you, this phase has its challenges — and they’ve only been exacerbated by COVID.

Having all the time you want to do all the things you want is, in theory, a wonderful thing. Ah, to write, to take photos, to paint the house, to renovate the kitchen, to spend time with family, to travel, to have lunch with friends, to take all those lessons in all those interests that you’ve put on the shelf for all those years. . . The list is endless.

And, before COVID hit I was accomplishing some of that. But. . .

. . . it became apparent rather early on that just because I had all the time in the world and no schedule to adhere to, didn’t mean that others didn’t. Or, that those friends of mine who were also retired didn’t also have their own free-time plans that simply did not mesh with mine. It was all very disconcerting and more than just a little inconvenient.

Retirement, it turns out is a solitary journey.

There is no lunch room, or coffee breaks where you get to sit and gossip or talk about last night’s episode of The Amazing Race. There is no stopping off for a drink with friends after a trying day, or holiday parties to plan for. It takes a little while to get over that and to discover that you can find ways to fill those voids. And, that they are equally as enjoyable. But. . .

Enter COVID 19 and being confined to home.

Visits with family and friends screeched to a halt, holidays got cancelled, celebrations got shelved, renovations got delayed and classes got suspended. Indefinitely. Anything I wanted to do I had to do on my own. If I didn’t know how to do it I had to teach myself, or learn from YouTube videos.

Being self-sufficient, independent and reasonably able to follow instructions I’ve made out okay. But, it’s boring. With a capital B.

In the past 8 months I’ve learned a bunch of new stuff. Like how to take an online class using Zoom,. I’ve taught myself to knit (slippers are my current obsession). I’ve become more proficient with both my SLR and phone cameras and better at editing photos. I’ve experimented with numerous recipes and learned how to bake a beautiful bagel. I’ve started painting with watercolours — an online course sparked the interest and a few video lessons with my talented sister-in-law later I’ve discovered I even have a bit of a talent.

So, imagine being bored when you’ve got all that going on. Absurd. A year ago it would be.

When I got out of bed this morning it wasn’t with a sense of enthusiasm for taking on any of the many projects I’ve got on the go, it was with a sense of weariness and boredom. Sadly, this house, my home, the place I most like to be has become too familiar. Because I can’t leave it.

I can’t, on a whim, pop out the door and drop in on a friend for coffee. Whenever I do leave — usually to get groceries or the mail — I have to ensure that I have a mask in my purse, in my pocket and in the car, along with a good supply of hand sanitizer. I can’t sign up for classes at the local pool, I can’t attend the monthly book club held at our local library, I can’t go grab my grandkids and take them for lunch just because I feel like it.

Visits with my grandkids have to planned weeks in advance, and are subject to being cancelled on a moments notice. I can join online fitness classes, book clubs, painting lessons, cooking lessons, knitting lessons and have virtual visits with my mother and siblings. I’ve done all of that, and I’m tired of having to do it that way.

I’m whining and I know it. But I don’t care. When every day is a carbon copy of the previous one it’s hard to look with enthusiasm at your options and be inspired.

Today I’m going to make cinnamon buns, zucchini muffins, and English muffin bread. Then I’m going to go for a walk in the cold sunshine. Then I’m going to practice painting trees. Then I’m going to finish that pair of slippers. . .

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