FROM THE INSIDE OUT: Will things ever be the same again?

Marge Flados

Will we ever be the same again or will we be forever marked by the effects that COVID-19 had on our nation, our culture, our relationships with others or our attitude? My personal feeling is that an era has passed and we will never return to things as they once were. But then, could we not say that about every era we have experienced in our nation or indeed our personal life journey?

When I ask that question of friends and acquaintances there is usually an odd contemplative pause and then a simple, “Probably not”. When the thought is examined, most agree that isolation from friends and acquaintances whether it be distancing, wearing masks or absence of social interaction, causes unexplainable change. Maybe the behaviorist experts will come up with an answer at some future time. It would be easy to assume the effects of lock downs during the past two years have affected us all.

As my research group, I am restricted to the microcosm here where I live in comfortable retirement with others much like myself in age and health. At one time we were a beehive of activities here, everything from bingo, board games, lunch trips to eating in our beautiful dining room every night, dressed up and cheerful. Mingling, interacting, laughing and visiting. But that was before the lockdown of the past 21 months.

After the required lockdown preventive measures were eased and/or discarded and residents

were granted most of the freedoms enjoyed before the onset of COVID-19, it was expected that everyone would return to their previous behaviors and pursuits. It didn’t happen.

Most, including me, have been hanging on to their reclusive ways, avoiding the dining room, eating in their rooms, ignoring many planned activities or at least not attending in the numbers they once did. I can’t even explain my own behavior in this regard. It is not the me I once was. It is not an age thing or unique to those who live here, teachers too are noticing the differences in children when they returned to their classrooms.

It has even affected the corporate cat, Goldie. Goldie is a feral calico cat who resides in our walled courtyard. Previously, every morning people who had breakfast in the multi-windowed deli would check on Goldie and she would scamper about and put on a rather delightful cat show running up trees and acting out for her audience. Deli service has not been resumed, Goldie has lost her admiring audience and she is a totally changed cat. She is dutifully fed and watered, but she has lost her desire to shock everyone by scampering up a tree and leaping onto a second floor balcony, landing on a one-inch wide railing with all four feet and then prancing about while her audience oohed and aahed.

The climbing up was not as exciting as her return to earth which people lined up to see. First she jumped onto the railing, all four feet landing on the narrow metal ledge. She would tense her body and leap unto a big smooth palm tree trunk about six feet from where she was perched, zig zag down the trunk and when about 4 feet from the ground release her claws and gracefully land on all four feet at the bottom of the tree right in front of her viewing audience.

But the lockdown period has affected Goldie too. She no longer scampers and puts on a show, for her audience is few in number. On a recent day she decided to climb the tree and leap onto the second story balcony, walk about and then make the spectacular descent. It turned into a “CAT-astrophy”.

There she was perched, all four feet on the narrow ledge, her body tensed and she took the giant leap as she had done more times than we could count, her body flew through the air but she missed the tree completely, sailed a little past it, in fact. But she spread all four legs and flattened her body and landed on her feet in the mulch below. Considering her “flight” was from a distance of about 15 feet the landing was impressive and she walked away with only a mean, squint-eyed look back toward those who had witnessed her feat as if it had been their fault that she missed the tree.

Goldie is feral and allows only one person to touch her and with that last episode she used the 3rd of her nine lives. The other two involved dogs who somehow gained entry to the courtyard and tried to kill her but she was too fast and savvy for them. Thankfully, Feral Goldie is accustomed to living on the edge.

Maybe we will return to our old behavior habits. I hope soon. Meanwhile, I will find solace and comfort in my hidey-hole doing my own thing such as writing columns for three publications. I would hope that Goldie exercises caution when she descends now that she has learned the penalty of bypassing a tree on her descent from high places.

Marge Flados resides in Harlingen, Texas and can be reached at nflados@gmail.com 

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