I’m probably not alone in feeling straight-jacketed by Covid-19. The retirement center I call home has imposed so many restrictions, it feels difficult to breathe. If I want coffee, I must order 15 minutes in advance. If I choose to walk in the garden, that must be prearranged, also. The same requirement exists to use the library or the exercise rooms, though those privileges are time-limited to one hour a week.
Normally, regimen and organization are welcome influences in my life. My father was German, after all. Without these two traits, little gets done during my day. Readers of this blog may be surprised to learn I spend days organizing my thoughts before I publish.
I’m not alone in my agonizing. Author Fran Lebowitz becomes obsessed whenever she takes pen to hand: I do not need anything as fast as a word processor. I don’t need anything so snappy. I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself. (“Gaining Wait,” by Olivia Hosken, Town&Country, September 2020, pg. 33)
Obsession has value whenever options are limited. Writing my blog is a form of escape, so I’m not surprised to learn others obsess over their passions, as well, eager to gain control over some part of their lives. Those who love good jewelry are on a buying frenzy at the moment. About a third of people who are bidding for Southeby’s baubles are new, says the auction house. (“Bangles in a Pandemic?” by Jill Newman, Town&Country, September 2020, pg. 44.) One woman explains her compulsion as a need for “human connection.” Others admit their purchases memorialize the quarantine. (Ibid, pg. 33.)
Investment buying is a constant, of course, especially when the stock market goes up and down like an elevator. Security has its price, naturally. Quality gems at auction can run from $1-3 million. (Ibid Pg. 33)
Celebrating the beautify of an object that can be touched, felt, and possessed offers one form of communion. But what about those of us who covet an evening at the opera, attending a book reading, or wandering through an art gallery? Those venues have been closed for so long it’s easy to feel out of touch as well as out of control. What are the current trends or have trends died, made victims of the pandemic?
Fortunately, a brave band of artists is going to find out what will work and what won’t. The Great Gatsby is scheduled to open in New York soon. The audience will be small and the theater large. Seating will be kept to safe distances and those who attend are required to wear face coverings, an obeisance to Covid-19. The freedom to express oneself will come from the form of the mask a person chooses to wear—modest or as imaginative as one designed for a Venetian ball. Let no one adopt the mask doctors wore in the time of cholera, please. That might straight jacket the merriment.