Don’t Touch

I am not a particularly social person, so the concept of social distancing isn’t anything new to me. I have done it all my life. It’s not that hard. If someone tries to hug you, jerk away and look uncomfortable, regretful and defiant all at the same time. If they offer a handshake, wave at them after backing off a couple of steps. Let “Don’t touch me,” be your new mantra.

I never liked being touched. It wasn’t until I had children that it occurred to me that I would have to learn to become more of a toucher, because children need to be patted and soothed and hugged more often than I would have normally been comfortable with.

I think back on my own childhood, and realize my mother had no idea what was going on with me. I didn’t want to be rocked to sleep or cuddled as an infant, and I didn’t seek out hugs when I was upset. I self-isolated instead, insisted I was fine and if pressed, I’d cry, “Don’t touch me!” Poor Mom.

Sure, I hugged my grandparents–after being admonished in advance to do so without being a jerk about it. Aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings–well, okay, but make it quick. I’d will my face into some grimacing semblance of a smile and tolerate it.

I was born into an affectionate family, and I was not a great fit.

I am much more an affectionate person these days, but I had to work on it. Having children was my key to the door to the land of hugs, and I trained myself to be a hugger for their sakes. I think I did a reasonably good job of it, but I am much better as a grandmother, for sure.

It’s possible that people who know me, people I have hugged a lot over the years, have no idea what a job it really was to get me to the point where I wouldn’t want to run screaming from the very idea that I would have to touch someone.

To be clear, I always had affectionate feelings. I love so many people, and I like quite a few more. I always did. I just didn’t want them to touch me. Even today, very often I still don’t want anyone to touch me.

I give myself a lot of credit for the fact that I can now deliver quite a good squeeze and mean it from the bottom of my heart. I can do it with a real smile, rather than a grimace. I even feel good, instead of wanting to dash into a closet.

But my oddities still often require me to psyche myself up before I can do it.

As for orders to stay home, rather than getting out there with real people? I am good with that. I am perfectly content to stay in this house with my parents and do chores and cook and monitor medications. I am happy to sit in the office with the dog and bang away at this keyboard.

Clearly, I have been prepared for this pandemic era my whole life.

Now, having said all that, I would like to comment on the insanity going on outside the doors.

The photo above is a waiting area in Denver International Airport. In spite of everything going on, I did have to travel last week in order to take care of some medical issues of my own, and I opted to fly.

I can’t tell you how odd it was to see so few people at the Light Rail stops, especially at Union Station. How weird it was not to jostle through a throng of people to ride the escalator up from the final stop and into the airport terminal. And how very crazy it felt to breeze through Security in less than five minutes.

The plane wasn’t empty, but I didn’t have a seat mate. I assure you, this didn’t bother me in the least. But it isn’t the norm.

Now, back in Wyoming, I see the people of this little town going completely bonkers, much like the rest of the country.

Although there have been no reported cases in this area, schools are now closed. I’m happy to report that the district did announce that any child who needs it can go to the school and pick up breakfast and lunch every day. This is wonderful, because I know there are a lot of kids who might otherwise go hungry. But I do wonder who is going to be caring for them and taking them to pick up the meals, when so many of them probably have parents who have to go to work. And I worry for the parents who only are able to work the hours they do because their children are in school.

This is quite the conundrum, wouldn’t you agree?

There are more empty shelves than full ones at the only grocery store in town. No toilet paper, no paper towels, no facial tissue, no soap. Few canned goods. No hamburger.

Fresh fruits and veggies are there, and more expensive cuts of meat. Plenty of candy. Some coffee. Not my coffee, but some. And seriously, folks, I’m not that picky. I will drink almost any coffee. I just don’t appreciate the higher prices.

All I can say is, I’m glad we’re here, in the land of “I-80 is closed until…whenever.” I grew up here, and have always made it a habit to have a two week supply (at least!) of toilet paper, coffee, meats and veggies and all essential items. Winter here can close the roads for days, and delivery trucks are delayed on a regular basis, so it just makes sense.

Still, many people in this town have been here decades longer than I, and should have this same thought process, so why the insane buying sprees?

I blame the panic-shopping on the press coverage. We live in an era of too much information/not enough information/misinformation/conspiracy theories/lies.

Lovely, isn’t it?

We are good. We have the essentials, and we’re not going to be either hungry or dirty any time soon. We have these things because we always stock up. What we tend to run out of is fresh fruit, and so far, that hasn’t become a problem. So far.

I don’t have anything but practical advise. Wash your hands. Cook your own meals. Stay home if you can. If you touch things when you have to go out in public, wash your hands again. If you touch a person, wash your hands.

Don’t touch me.

Ha ha ha. I can say it now, and no one will blame me a bit. Ah, my element, at last.

I’m going to stream movies and read books and cook meals for my parents and wash my hands about 3 dozen times. I’m going to write. For me, that’s a regular day.

You might want to give it a try. Take it easy, like me.

Be safe. Be well. Keep your hands to yourself.

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