FAIRFIELD, NJ — Geri Helou, Fairfield resident and vice president of the Fairfield Golden Agers, recently shared her experience of life in quarantine as a senior citizen.
Acknowledging that the older community is more susceptible to the novel coronavirus, Helou has done her best to practice proper social distancing. Instead, she has spent much of the last few months writing, and decided to share the following story with the community:
“I have to write—even if it's nonsense—because it's the only way I can keep my hands away from my face. Even when I'm reading Emails, I'm resting my face in my hands.
“That's a habit I've had for years because I have pictures of myself in a faculty meeting resting my face in my hands; and because I have eyes that always look closed, I always gave the impression—only the impression—that I was sleeping through those ‘exciting’ meetings.
“If I'm not writing, I'm on the computer looking for bargains. Now, since I'm not going anywhere, where the heck am I going to wear all the clothes I have already bought hanging in my closet with labels swinging in the breeze as I move the hangers from one side to another?
“However, somehow I always seem to be on a search for other things, such as protective gloves, masks, sanitizer—anything of a safe nature even though in my safe zone and don't need them.
“Plus, let's not forget the search for toilet paper, which seems to be an unending search without a price limit or a current delivery time. Will I really need 50 rolls of toilet paper delivered by May 30? Can I pay my IRS tax in July with the rolls?
“When I'm not looking for bargains, I'm reading menus to look for dinner or lunch options. When not doing that, eating anything in the refrigerator that is not moving seems to be a good idea.
“Do I have food in the house? Remember, I'm Italian. I'm not down to total bare shelves. Yet it is shocking to see some of the spaces beginning to show.
“I'm the only one in the house so that's not too bad. I feel badly for some who are responsible for taking care of families, who are probably staying home and eating more than usual. What else is there to do when bored or just plain uninterested in stuff?
“Oh, yes, I could be cleaning clutter. I’m making small progress with that. Dining room table is now clear. (Well, half of it, anyway…Hey, this clutter didn't happen in a day, you know, and it's not going away in a day either.)
“New coffee table and end tables are looking better. It’s helping with the de-cluttering. The coffee table has a shelf that is very good for storing stuff off the floor. End tables have a doored cabinet that’s excellent for keeping clutter covered away from peering eyes. Not that anyone is really peering at anything in this house.
“Remember safe distancing. Isn't that a hoot to say? I bet you can’t say it fast three times without tripping over your tongue. ‘SAFE DISTANCING.’ Come on, give it a go.
“It’s stopped raining, so I'm not thinking about raindrops on my window sill. (Is that a title of a song? ‘Rain Drops on My Window Sill’?) A friend told me to use earplugs. I must have some in the house.
“I also realize that there are two small slots with a slide on the top of the bottom half of the window, and if I move the slide, the window will partially move down towards me, and I could clean the outside without climbing the ladder or going on the deck. Not that I really plan on cleaning windows outside or even inside, but it's nice to know. “Maybe it is a fact I can add to my repertoire of almost useless information…
“Is it lunchtime, yet?...
“I opened a kitchen cabinet under the counter because my friend asked me to buy her Brillo if I saw it in my store travels. I did find it today, and, of course, I had to buy one for myself, so I opened the cabinet to put it away.
“There was absolutely no room for it in that cabinet. Instead, I saw a jumble of stuff that looked like cleaning items. I had to take everything out to see what it was I have been accumulating and storing.
“I could and cannot believe what was in that cabinet. I have enough cleaning supplies to go into business for myself.
“[I have] about five boxes of Brillo (not including the one I just bought); 25 sponges (and I never even use sponges anymore); two packs of 10 wet sweeper cloths for a broom I haven't used in years (I don’t even know where that broom might be); five Mr. Clean erasers (only the erasers without the Mr. Clean); numerous—and I mean numerous—wipes, spot removers, antibacterial wipes, glass cleaner, etc. that were all dried out and unusable; and three pairs of long cleaning gloves. (Can they be used for safety in stores?)
“The irony is in the fact that I hate to clean; have always hated cleaning, but have had to do it, of course, at times.
“I feel I must have bought all these items because a part of me believed that somehow these cleaning agents would work themselves and magically clean the house, the floors, the walls and everything else. Obviously, that was a non-working dream.
“It was easier to hire someone before, but that's not possible now locked in place. I guess I could use some of these great cleaning objects to actually deep clean; but why would I do that when there are so many more fun things to do like write about it, talk on the phone about it, listen to talking heads about nothing, check my 2,000 Emails about more important things and go looking for Brillo for my friend?
“I can even get some exercise following my Roomba around to make sure it vacuums a different area instead of going over and over the same section.
“I have now reorganized the cleaning agents very neatly. I will be able to open the door without having everything look jumbled and chaotic and fall out when one thing is touched.
“Now, whether I will open the door and use some of these items all depends on how quickly I can read and delete my emails, get Roomba to do its job more efficiently and just generally decide deep cleaning everything is that important.
“Oh, but wait, it's time for Judge Judy. Maybe I'll deep clean tomorrow...Or maybe not.”