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Things I Lost in the Pandemic - 09/02/2020

My favorite neighborhood thrift store went out of business on Saturday. This was the first really painful loss for me of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been following the national businesses that are struggling and am aware of several large retail and restaurant chains that have gone under, but honestly, I haven't done much shopping at brick and mortar stores since I first retired in 2000. E-commerce was a new thing then, but in 2020 most businesses have well-established websites, and I've been able to get what I need online.

But my thrift shop was different. I love clothes, and have been a fan of used clothing for a long time. When I lived in Hollywood, I frequented my favorite Goodwill store, which happened to be the one that Macklemore sang about in "Thrift Shop." I can totally relate to his lyrics about going into the store with "only $20 in my pocket" and coming out looking "awesome." When I moved to Tucson, one of the first stores I went to was Twice as Nice on Ina Road. There were three stores in town, but that one was in my neighborhood. The best thing about it, other than the fact that they sold really nice, high-end clothes that were on trend and reasonably priced, was that they would accept my old clothes in trade. They didn't pay much, but for me it usually worked out to two old pieces for one new one. I've been able to keep myself outfitted for very little cash; I almost never pay full price for anything.

So when they told me they were closing the store, I was truly saddened. I have been a regular there for nearly four years. They knew Clara and never gave me a hard time about coming in with my dog. They just met Timmy a couple of weeks ago and were so happy for me, because I had told tham about Clara's death. We weren't friends, but the clerks there have certainly been a source of support for me. I knew that the pandemic closure had been hard on the store; they had cut back their hours and were only open five days a week when they re-opened. But I really thought they would make it. They said the landlord wasn't willing to work with them. They promised me they will be reopening in the new year at another location, and I hope that is true. Twice as Nice is down to one store in Tucson now, and the one that is left is nearly 20 miles away from me on the south side of town.

The closure made me think about some of the other things that I have lost in the pandemic. I guess we all have losses, some far worse than others. Here are the ones that I feel saddest about:

-The joy of exchanging a smile: I love to smile at people. Someone once told me I have a smile that can charm a snake, and while that wasn't a particularly inspired metaphor, I never forgot it, and have always used my smile as a way to connect with people. I still smile frequently under my mask, forgetting that people can't see it. I try to use my eyes to convey my emotions now. But I miss seeing other people smile too, and I miss the shared connection when we smile at each other.

-The easy assumption of safety in public places: I have been afraid at times in a few places that I lived in, or visited. But until 2020, I was never afraid of an invisible and possibly deadly virus. I wonder if we will ever feel as carefree as we once did before COVID. I'm pretty sure I won't.

-Seeing movies in theatres: I have watched a ton of TV since March. I love being able to stream TV shows and movies on demand. But I really miss being able to go out to a theatre for the shared experience of watching a film in the dark. I also miss the really comfy seats and the popcorn. Watching at home alone on my couch is nice, but it does get lonely.

-Eating out in restaurants: I know they have re-opened in most cases, but the few times I have been out to eat since March I have felt really nervous about taking my mask off, particularly if they were crowded. I've been fine, but again, will we ever feel completely good about this again? It's been great for my DoorDash delivery career - everybody wants takeout, or delivery these days. But I really miss the ease with which I used to go out for meals.

-I lost my job as a substitute teacher: I have held several part-time jobs since I retired, but my favorite, other than acting, was being a substitute teacher. I loved being with kids and feeling like I was contributing to their growth. This was actually the first casualty of COVID for me. I lost my job when the schools closed in March, and although I have been contacted about teaching this fall, I don't feel safe enough to do it. Plus, the money from DoorDash is much better on an hourly basis, and the work is easier. But I'm never going to feel as good about delivering someone's dinner as I did after teaching a day of school.

-I lost my Clarabelle: Technically this was not because of the pandemic. But Clara and I were used to spending a lot of time every day with other dogs and other people at our favorite dog parks. Around the first of April, eveyone but me seemed to stop going. We still went, but there was usually no one else there. It was lonely. After awhile, I could tell Clara wasn't enjoying our visits very much. We went on the last day of her life, when she only had energy to walk to the tree near the gate, where she laid down for about 10 minutes until I carried her back to the car. Although I got my pandemic puppy, Timmy, a month after she died, I will always associate this terrible loss with this sad time in the world.

I could add to this list. I haven't been able to see my family in nearly 18 months due to the travel restrictions, but I plan to go in October. International travel is out of the question right now, and I don't know how soon we will be able to resume travel or what it will look like. I deeply miss live events, like theatre, concerts, and football games. When I have friends over, we all still wear masks. And I guess we'll never have handshakes again. But at least I haven't lost anyone close to me to this disease, not yet anyway. Although both my older sister and I had the virus, they were mild cases. My mother, who is in a nursing home in Orlando, was exposed via one of her nurses, but today we got the good news that Mom remains asymptomatic and is no longer in quarantine. So yes, there are losses, but we count our blessings for the many good things that remain.

#TwiceAsNice #ThriftShop #Smile #SubstituteTeachers #DoorDash #DogPark #WillItEverBeNormalAgain?

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