The list I took to the grocery store was longer than usual. I made it with the goal of not needing to go to a grocery store again for eight days. The store was busy, but no busier than a Saturday afternoon, and everyone was polite. It was interesting to see how some aisles were fully stocked and others were completely stripped bare. Things that were on my list which weren’t available:
Canned Chili (most canned goods were gone)
Pork for making pulled pork (more expensive pork cuts were available)
boneless skinless chicken (Skin-on chicken was available, but only a small supply)
Everything else on my list I was able to get, but not in my usual brands or sizes. I could get 1% milk, but only in half gallons. I could get eggs, but they were a more expensive organic brand. Basically, stores have been stripped clean of things which are inexpensive per calorie and store well. A second grocery store did have ground beef and some frozen pizzas, so I acquired those as well.
Last Friday’s trip to a store was unsettling because food was vanishing and not yet replaced. Today’s was reassuring, because I can see how much food is still available as long as my family is willing to eat different things than we usually do. Yet almost every aisle I was faced with the stark reality that life is different for everyone. Many of the rules have changed. All our behaviors are altered either subtly or dramatically. And we all need to maintain those alterations for long enough that, by the time the pandemic has passed, we will all have new habits. New patterns.
Our house is using this impetus to cook more at home and to cook more group meals instead of solo meals. We’re being more conscious about resource management in relation to our food supplies. These are good habits for us to have. I welcome them.
On the other hand, the whole situation feels simultaneously imminent and ominous while also feeling completely made up. I take all the right social distancing actions, but I don’t actually know anyone who is sick. I trust the experts who are so urgent that we all change our habits right now, but the reported numbers of cases seems small when compared to populations. I see the stories from Italy, and the terrible choices they are having to make, but outside the sun is shining and people are going for walks. So I’m just going to embrace the contradictions. I will live inside the new social rules and quarantine as much as I can, but I will also try to spend my time as normally and as happily as I can.