One foot in front of the other

I have discovered what I am going to be like, when I’m older and retired and with an empty nest. I am going to be one of those older ladies taking Brisk Daily Constitutionals. Yesterday as I bundled myself up in my long winter coat, earmuffs, legwarmers, and boots, I asked if anyone would like to join me. Didn’t you already go for a walk? All I can say is there are a lot of hours to fill.

Why would anyone be bundling up so much, this first week of April? Yesterday was minus 23 with windchill and I seem to have adopted the Nordic attitude that There Is No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes. I am part Norwegian after all. Also, desperate.

This cold snap, along with Everything Else, has put me in a low mood this week. My younger son was supposed to be on the West Coast sailing trip this week, the trip that he has been looking forward to and working towards for two years. He is not the only disappointed person in the world, certainly, but I would feel much, much better if we had some sort of reassurance from the school administration that we will get back some part of the two thousand dollars we paid for him to do so; not to mention I sold $2300 worth of grocery gift cards in the last-minute fundraiser. I have no idea how much funds were actually raised from that, but it’s not nothing. He is a trooper, and his stoicism in the face of this disappointment – and the fact that he will very likely not have a grade nine graduation – makes me feel teary-eyed. Also, who knows when he will get his braces off. WHO KNOWS. He had an appointment next week and we were really getting close to the end; obviously the appointment will be cancelled because the office is closed.

Ah well, in the grand scheme of things, these are minor; we are here and healthy. I decided yesterday, in the frigid cold, to go out for groceries. My friend Denise (HI DENISE) had told me that Costco now strictly limits the number of people in the store and so there is a lineup to get in; people are allowed in when others leave. I figured that it would be a great opportunity to go, since it was MINUS 23 WITH WINDCHILL. Who would be insane enough to go to Costco? Who indeed.

The lineup snaked past the liquor store and into the parking lot and reminded me, for all the world, like lineups at Disneyworld, albeit about fifty degrees colder. At Disneyworld, the lineups go back and forth so it looks like it is much shorter than it actually is; since people were practicing social distancing the line did move faster than one might imagine but it still took fifteen minutes, standing in the cold, to get in the store. I started to imagine I was actually AT Disneyworld. I was at least as excited when I got near the entrance as I would have been to ride on Everest or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, if only to warm up my frozen hands.

Is there a Frozen ride?

It has taken me YEARS to train myself not to overbuy non-perishable food items; it has taken me YEARS to mentally accept that yes, I can visit the grocery store any time I like and I do not have to buy every little thing I might need in the next month for my pantry. YEARS OF TRAINING, GONE. Now I am back to my old mental state where I need to buy everything, because who knows when I will be back.

The guys helped me bring in my haul and after we all scrubbed our hands like we are stars on Grey’s Anatomy, I stood in the kitchen and just stared at the food. I was incapacitated by the sheer volume of it all. Where does it…go. How do I…put it away.

It felt like a metaphor. Every single time I see a headline or someone brings up to me how long we are expected to keep social distancing and isolating – months and months – I start to get a very panicky feeling. I can’t do this, I can’t do this for that long, I just can’t do it. It’s like going for a long run or a spin class, the first five minutes feels like an eternity. Almost every time I go for a run – or a spin – I think there’s no way, THERE IS NO WAY I can keep this up. And then, I do. I think, just hang on, one more song, okay now this is a good song, I can keep going.

So I can’t think too far ahead. I can’t think months or months. I can think, this is what I’m doing this week. This week isn’t so bad. 

One foot in front of the other. I looked at the groceries and thought, okay, first let’s get the frozen food in the freezer. Okay, the cream and yogurt has to go in the fridge. Let’s put the bananas on the counter. It took a while but eventually everything got put away in its proper place.

Masks are the new lipstick, don’t you know?


  1. I keep doing this “I can’t do this” thing too. Right now, it’s about homeschooling my kid and we are on all of Day Two and I keep saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” It will get easier, right?

  2. Masks are the new lipstick – ha. No I hadn’t considered that – but so true. We have not been to the grocery store since Monday when Tank ran to get milk and bananas and pasta sauce. I am trying to see if we can manage to make it close to a week. My God, the milk they drink!

    So sad about the sailing trip. That is really REALLY disappointing. It is heartbreaking to consider all the things that have been planned and then cancelled. These kinds of things – milestones for these kids are the ones that tug at my heartstrings. Things that cannot be re-created. We were supposed to be in Dublin right now getting ready for Curly to compete at World Championships. She has competed at that level before and probably will again, but it is tough just to qualify and always a different experience. I am worried that Reg’s Washington DC trip will be cancelled. I wonder if they can postpone it, if they do cancel it. It is supposed to be mid to late May.

    They are furloughing people at Coach’s physical therapy clinic. He finds out more today. I doubt they will furlough him – most of the clinic’s patients come to see him specifically. Regardless, he feels bad that he might have to tell people this news. He doesn’t know yet if upper management will tell him who he is picking or if he will be expected to choose.

    You are a rock star for walking when it is SO cold. I am working out a lot indoors but my wimpy side interferes with outdoor walks unless it is in the upper 40’s. Yesterday it was 49 in Chicago, so Mini and I walked outside. I hear you on the ‘I think I can’ mindset and how similar it is to a hard workout. Give it another minute, etc. It will get easier. Always so glad and accomplished feeling when it is over!

    I have told the kids we are cleaning out the filthy fridge before we do another big grocery purchase – they are bracing for that because it is a big job and I will want all hands on deck.

    Coach put on the evening news last night. I usually only watch the morning news. The tone was very different from the morning news and he paused the newscast and then sent the younger kids out of the room and we watched. So depressing and upsetting. It was rough. Stay well, given your Grey’s Anatomy hand washing techniques, I think you will stay healthy.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      I’m so sorry about Curly! That is a big disappointment. Fingers crossed for Coach’s job!

  3. I so totally identified with this – the feeling of panic and being overwhelmed when I try to think about living like this for up to a year. It’s really important to just focus on the now, the today, and try to figure that out, or I spin out into a tornado of fretting. Hope you are enjoying the spinach and doing okay :).

  4. I had been making fairly good inroads on The Husband food hoarding prior to all this. All that progress? GONE! Every time he comes in, he’s bringing something else we absolutely do not need. There are only two of us in this house and we have enough food to feed an army. *sigh*

    My attitude on everything fluctuates all day/every day – from panic, to fear, to it’s gonna be okay. I just keep trying to remind myself that this will be done one day.

  5. Hello to my favourite Nicole, I have to say I find myself in the exact same boat as you! For the last few years I have fought the urge to buy so many things on offer and store them because it was false economy. However I was then aghast to find myself short of things in this lockdown and have been berating myself ever since! But I have manged to shop and have what we NEED plus some things that we WANT so all is well in the big scheme of things! Stay well all of you over there xx

  6. I’m sorry about the sailing trip. North would have been so sad to have the class trip to Colombia cancelled last year. The Spanish and French immersion 7th & 8th graders alternate international trips and so the French immersion kids are missing out this year. I hope you get your money back, at least.

  7. So disappointing about your son! I too hope you get your money back. Right now I can’t even look at the week, I can only focus on one day at a time or the downward spiral of my mind begins…the amount of food we have is kind of embarrassing, but if feels like we are still always out of something. The phrase ‘Serenity Now!’ often pops up in my mind….

  8. I’m so bummbed for your son too; that sailing trip seemed to be an excellent experience and the build up for two years: gone.
    I wish I could send you some sunshine and warm weather; I think that would make it easier for you.
    I like your motto: one foot in front of the other. And soon (praying) we will all be on the other side of this.
    Big “virtual” hugs.

Leave a Reply