The Long & Winding Road: Isolating together, for now

The Long & Winding Road: Isolating together, for now

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NAU Cancels In-Person Classes

Northern Arizona University announced that all in-person classes will be moved online on Monday, March 23.

Who knew I touched my face so often? Approximately 49 times per minute, according to a not-quite-scientific personal study.

Only after paying attention to the COVID-19 warnings (in case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere: Wash your hands, do not touch your face, stay six feet away from other people, only meet in groups of 10 or fewer) did I realize my hands long to touch my chin, cheeks, eyes, mouth and let’s not forget my hair. In fact, they seem incapable of staying by my sides.

And who knew I could get so tired of a sweet little celebratory song, which I now scream insanely every time I wash my hands?  (If you’re still under that rock: Wash your hands often for roughly 20 seconds, as long as it takes for you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.) I suppose that is better than singing “Ring around the Rosy,” which does not end well, as you may recall. That would be sobering as a hand-washing ditty meant to keep a pandemic at bay.

And who knew my hands, while far from looking like a teenager’s for, well, a few years, would become like a Gila monster’s skin in the sizzling desert?

And then there is the mystery of why my sleeves have been turning gray. Blackish, really. I realized they are collecting the dirt from every railing, door knob and steering wheel that I normally touch with my Gila monster hands. So while my hands are staying insulated, my jacket/sweater/blouse sleeves are not. Time for another load of wash: No touching those washing-machine controls. Actually it won’t be as much of a problem now, as I’m staying away from public places.

The crazy scary thing about this coronavirus is its speed. Almost eerie the way we hear one thing one day, and something else the very next day—or the very next hour.

Entire cities, states and countries are closing down. Universities including Northern Arizona University where I teach shifted to online classes—initially for a couple  weeks, then for the rest of the spring semester. Most recently, NAU postponed graduation ceremonies until December. I feel for those college and high school seniors affected.

It’s hit me how I love walking into a classroom of students who smile and are (mostly) ready to work, and hanging out in the hallway talking politics with colleagues between classes, and getting together with friends for a glass of wine or a simple hug.

Let us thank those on the front lines, including medical personnel, other hospital workers and even grocery-store employees for taking health risks so the rest of us can go on living as normally as possible.

We would worry less about them if non-essential workers would just stay home, people! If we cannot believe Dr. Anthony Fauci, who can we trust? Not his boss, obviously. If you do not know who Fauci is, avail yourself to Google. Admit it: You’re already on the internet playing Scrabble or Dungeons and Dragons, right? (Or, more appropriate, Solitaire.)

By the time this column is in your (possibly gloved) hands, we may have more COVID-19 cases in Coconino County; more than the 20-plus we knew of last week. The few weeks we stay home should help reduce coronavirus cases by keeping human contact at a minimum, or “flattening the curve.”

Imagine, I used to think “flattening the curve” meant doing more abdominal exercises.

As we adjust—introverts rejoicing at the world-wide permission to stay home with a good book or video game, and extroverts clinging to their phones—let’s all be good to one another.

All of what we love, we hope will return. Perhaps then we’ll realize what we almost lost, and what we have still: our human connection. Let hands by our sides again become friends by our side.


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