How long has it been now that we’ve had to wear these scratchy masks and fear for our lives every time we buy groceries? Six months? Twenty years? Every week is the same, so how are we supposed to remember how long it’s been since we called Aunt Iris or watered the Christmas cactus? How are we supposed to remember birthdays when it’s hard to even remember what month is it?
We’re tired of ordering clothes online and sending most of them back and standing in line to get into the Food Co-op or Diane’s Bakery. There are no concerts, no plays, no movies to mark time. No live music in the bars and restaurants, no festivals, no parades. No exercise classes where the constant chatter helps us forget how much we hate exercising. And don’t tell us we can get all those things online—you know darn well it’s not the same!
Okay, you might say, but we’re still alive. We’re healthy, and if we continue being careful, we may actually make it to the day when we can to return to our normal lives. Just hang in there, you say. Back in April those word made us feel better, gave us hope. Right, we said, probably by fall we’ll be able to use those airline credits and invite people to dinner. It was easy to be brave and optimistic and proud of ourselves for not complaining. But now, now it seems like it’s been going on forever and is never, ever going to end. We look at the scales and get more depressed, but who can resist a few extra sweets and carbs if they make us feel better even for a moment? We look in the mirror and tell ourselves our self-administered haircut isn’t all that bad and, besides, we can always wear a hat.
Our kids are checking on us, asking sneaky questions to try to catch us breaking the rules. They say no hair salon, no pedicures, no meeting friends for coffee. When did they get the right to boss us around? And why do we feel so guilty when we accidently hug an old friend?
Here at Rose Valley, we’ve had dozens of new RVers, young adults who are working virtually and figure they might as well do it on the road. Many of them didn’t bother to learn how to maintain that brand-new RV they bought nor do they understand the RVing culture. We plaster speed limit signs everywhere and tell them about all the seniors who walk their dogs on our roads, but they still drive through the park like they’re late for work. We explain when they come in that it gets below freezing here and if they don’t take precautions to avoid a water freeze, they’re going to damage both their RV and our water faucets. They look at us like we’re, well, old nags. They park their cars in the middle of our roads and have loud parties late at night. When they arrive, we tell them they can’t use our shared facilities, shower rooms and laundry, and they sneak in those facilities anyway and when they get caught, they shout that it’s unfair, no one told us! We say, “Not only were you told, sir, you also signed a paper stating you were told,” although we’d like to tell them to either go home or grow up.
But wait! We’re starting to hear from some of our summer regulars, retirees who, until 2020, drove their RVs up here to the cooler climate for the summer. They’re making plans, hoping in a few months it will be safe to leave home. Save that site for us, they say.
And you know what? It’s going to be spring soon. Tiny leaves will appear on the trees and the forsythia bushes will bloom yellow. My friend Pat Bowen tells me that already the spring bird migration is starting. The white-crowned sparrows who wintered here are heading north; the bushtits have arrived and they’re hungry from the trip (Hey, Pat! Where’s the grub?). A few blue grosbeaks have returned, and most of the American robins have already left for their summer resorts. The dark-eyed juncos are packing up to leave with some of them planning to go as far north as the Arctic Circle. The pine siskins showed up about ten days ago, demanding specialized feeders and food. Pat reports that our resident quail squadrons show up at her RV every evening just before dark, demanding dinner. “Next they’ll want home cooking,” she predicts. The males are feeling a bit spring feverish and have been working on their calls, trying to interest the ladies. I understand why all these birds seem to congregate at the home of Pat and her wife Julia — listed on their daily menu are Niger seed, meal worms, mixed seed, safflower seed, and of course the standard suet and peanut butter, not to mention fresh water.
The days are getting longer, the sunsets are spectacular. Every day we hear about more friends receiving their first, and for a few, their second vaccination with no serious side effects. New Mexico, so used to being near the bottom of every category listed by state, is near the top for vaccine distribution. The daily number of new Covid-19 cases is trending down in the state and Grant County has risen from red to yellow. Many of us have been cooking more than we have in years, trying out new recipes, and are proud of ourselves for being so adventurous. We’re able to watch the PBS travel shows again without tearing up, and Rick Steves no longer seems to be mocking us.
Come on, people, let’s all remember who we are, and that hope is what we run on. Hope gets us out of bed in the morning, gives us the energy to make it through the day. Even after the past year that has forced us to shelter in place and forego so many of the things we enjoy, hope is there, slowly rising to the surface like the spring flowers we know will come. We’re strong! We’re unbeatable! We’re survivors!
And now, enough cheerleading. Think I’ll go bake some chocolate chip cookies.
Sheila and husband, Jimmy, have lived at Rose Valley RV Ranch in Silver City since 2012, following five years of wandering from Maine to California. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org