Quarantine is hard, y'all. I know you all are feeling this, too. I know we are making these sacrifices for good reasons, and I know what I am going through right now pales in comparison to the hard work being done by people in healthcare, grocery stores, public services, and other essential businesses. I am grateful that staying home is the hardest thing we are being ask to do, because, well, it could always be worse.
But this still sucks.
However, I've decided that instead of just mourning what I don't have right now, I would make a list of things I will never take for granted again. Nothing like a little quarantine to put life into perspective.
1. Worship in person
I have shared on here before that I was so looking forward to being back in a church and leading worship on Sunday mornings. Now I am doing that...kinda. Starting at a new church the week, literally the week, that churches closed is so strange. I have been doing worship on Facebook live every Sunday, and just yesterday I started a church YouTube channel so I can share videos even more, so I feel like I am doing all I can. But it's rough.
I will never again take for granted the ability to go to church on Sunday morning and worship with other people in person. The first Sunday that we get to do so will be so joy-filled and wonderful I can't even really imagine it at the moment.
2. Wandering shops/running errands/charity shops
Oh my gosh do I miss running errands, wandering charity shops, getting to look around for things I need. Setting up a new home when we are asked to shop as little as possible (and so many places are closed!) is so hard. We are missing so many random little things that we keep discovering we need - a whisk, good hooks for the walls, a mattress, a vacuum... okay some of those things aren't so little. Some of it we could probably buy online but I don't want to right now because that puts delivery people in danger instead of myself. So, we are just making do with what we've got, and keeping a list of all the things we want to get when we can wander the world again.
I will never again take for granted the ability to just run to the store for something I need, or the ability to just wander charity shops/craft stores, etc, just for fun.
3. Doing laundry in my own home
This is the first place I have ever lived where I don't have laundry facilities in the building. I've lived in a dorm or an apartment where the laundry was in the basement, but I never had to actually go outside to an entirely separate location to do laundry. I wouldn't necessarily mind it here (okay, I would) but it is made extra worse by the quarantine. Launderette's (British for laundry mat) are open here, but we want to avoid them for obvious reasons. Luckily, since we rarely leave the house we can get away with wearing the same clothes for several days in a row... (shhh, don't tell!)
I will never again take for granted the ability to do laundry in my own home. Like seriously, I am now looking forward to doing laundry again when it's in my house. I will revel in it.
4. A well-stocked grocery store
It is definitely a sign of my privilege that this recent crisis is my first experience with the grocery store not always having everything I need. When we first got back to the UK and when shopping it was eye-opening - for weeks we couldn't find pasta, beans, eggs, toilet paper, hand soap, and many other things I consider basics. It was unnerving and made me incredibly anxious. Thankfully, we have now discovered that Lidl (our favorite discount grocery store) seems to always be well-stocked (for the most part, they were still out of flour as of today) and so it's worth the 1.5 mile walk (3 miles round trip!) to get there.
I will never again take for granted the ability to walk into a grocery store and buy what I need when I need it.
5. A well-stocked fridge/pantry/freezer
Speaking of getting what I need when I need it...in the future I will appreciate the ability to have a well-stocked fridge/pantry/freezer. Here I haven't had that because A. the stores were scarce for a while, and B. I have no room in my flat! Our kitchen is tiny so not much pantry room, our fridge is literally the size of a dorm fridge, and we do not have a freezer. I didn't quite realize how much I relied on having a freezer (especially to stock up/feel prepared) until I didn't have one. I've had to change how I prepare meals and what/how much I stock. I used to like to buy meat and other things when I found them on sale, then freeze, or make big batches of food and freeze the leftovers. Now I have to cook smaller amounts of food more often, and work harder to make sure we eat through everything before it goes bad.
I will never again take for granted the ability to stock a fridge/pantry/freezer the way I prefer.
6. Going to a restaurant/cafe/pub
I will admit, I was not big on eating out before I was told I can't. I generally like cooking and I definitely like saving money by eating at home. But I do miss being able to pop down to the pub for a full English Breakfast (something so elaborate I would never make it for myself at home) and going out to eat with friends. I miss having the option of going out to eat if I don't feel like cooking.
I will never again take for granted the ability to go out to eat anytime I want.
7. Going to the cinema
To be fair, I have missed going to the movies for a long time. It's something we cut out of our budget when we were traveling (and often lived in a country where we couldn't go anyway because the movies weren't shown in English.) So I was sooooo looking forward to living in London and having movies in the budget again! We were even going to get a pass to one of the local cinema chains that would have let us see unlimited movies for only £20/month! There's also a cool local place called the Electric Cinema that I was super excited to check out. But then, quarantine. Sigh.
I will never again take for granted the ability to go see a movie in a theater.
8. Hugging my friends/parishioners/everyone
I miss hugs. Yes, I can hug Joel any time I want. And he's a great hugger. But I miss hugging other people! I haven't gotten to meet a lot of new people at my church but I have met some (staff, mostly) and it's been so weird to not hug or even shake hands!
I will never again take for granted the ability to hug people.
9. Exploring where we are - museums/castles/tourist stuff, etc.
In London we are still allowed to go our for one session of exercise every day, so we aren't completely locked up. But I was looking forward to checking out all of the free museums, riding the London eye, going on a river cruise on the Thames, and just generally being a big ol' tourist. Now, all of those things are closed for who knows how long. When the world opens up again I will appreciate getting to explore like never before!
I will never again take for granted the ability to be a tourist!
10. Having friends/family visit or just over for dinner/game night, etc.
I am an extrovert, and as much I am connecting with family and friends online right now, I miss getting together with people in person. I want to have Vince and Joan over for dinner and have Steve over for a game of Dominion with real cards instead of on the computer. We were supposed to have people visit us in London this summer - my friend Amber from high school and her husband Luke were supposed to be her last week, my old roommate from seminary, Taylor was supposed to visit next month, and my mom after that! Instead, it's likely we'll go our entire time in London without any visitors from abroad, and we might not even get to have any local friends visit either! It sucks.
I will never again take for granted the ability to have family and friends visit in person.
When life returns to "normal" someday I truly hope I will always remain appreciative of these small (and big!) joys in life.
What are you missing under quarantine? Can you name one thing you plan not to take for granted ever again?