Mantra of the Mundane

Tomorrow I’ll be working at my office instead of at home. I’ve been going into the office once a week or once every two weeks for the whole of quarantine. I go because my plants are there, and they need regular watering. Yes, I could do what so many of my friends have had to do and just let them go, replace them whenever we’re back on site. I can’t do it, though. Can’t bear to surrender them to the pandemic. I’d love to be able to bring them home, but they don’t much like my apartment, and at least half of them aren’t cat safe, so in the office they stay … which means that to the office I go.

Rather than being a chore or a headache, having to go out pleases me. It’s nice to have a reason to be out and about every week. And my day in the great outdoors gets expanded by including all my errands — the post office, the bank, the drugstore.

Even with my regular runs to work, however, going out remains so foreign that I have to talk myself through getting out the door. At first, I would remind myself to put on a mask. A few false starts later, and I was reminding myself to don a mask, check for my keys and wallet … and put on shoes. Yes, shoes. That’s how unused to the world I’ve become in all these days and weeks and months of seclusion. I should probably add “contacts” to the list, too. I’ve gone out too many times and had to turn around when confronted with the blur of my surroundings.

The list is a kind of chant, a kind of song. Mask, keys, wallet, contacts, shoes. Mask, keys, wallet, contacts, shoes. The  most boring mantra in the history of mantras. I laugh at myself, but I need the crutch to keep myself from being half-dressed, fuzzy-sighted, and locked out!

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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

12 thoughts on “Mantra of the Mundane

  1. Terje

    The leaving home mantra is a regular thing in our family. A good thing to have. It is amusing that with changing times you have had to add shoes on your list of things to check. The plants sure appreciate your visit and they don’t mind what you are wearing or what you look like.


  2. oh, yes, the habits of pandemic and when can we go back to our habits of the before times. my mantra has become mask, keys, credit card, and sometimes Metrocard. I haven’t carried my purse except for what I’ve come to think of as excursions out of the neighborhood, so no cash, but in case i remember something i need to buy, i have to remember the credit card. And if i go for a long walk, it’s good to have the Metrocard if i feel too tired to walk all the way back.


    1. The weirdness of not having bought a monthly metrocard in a year … I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. I wish we lived closer (or at least didn’t have a river separating us) so we could go on some of those walks together!


  3. Oh that mantra is so important! I live on the first floor. The mailboxes are across from my front door. I gave my best-friend a good laugh at my expense when I went to check my mail and squealed, loudly, when my bare foot hit the cold tile of the lobby floor because I forgot I was not wearing shoes. I keep a backup mask and foldable shopping bag in every single one of my coats, jackets and purses because every now and then, I’m a block or more away and #$&@! Late spring thru early fall are going to rough again when I don’t have the crutch of outerwear to assist.


  4. A year ago, when we first went into lockdown, I was really good about getting out and taking a long daily walk. I had so many things to remember–hat, sunglasses, keys, inhaler, Kleenex, mask and more–that I ended up taping a note on the door. I’m impressed that you remember everything.
    I liked how the slice subtly conveyed the routine strangeness of pandemic life as well as the loneliness of isolation.


    1. Thanks, Kathleen. My little mantra for leaving the house is key. The one time I forgot to recite it, I left the house without my mask! I still can’t believe I forgot to put it on.


  5. I’m having a similar experience. I’m teaching online this year and leaving my house is a rare occurrence, so I have to think through similar steps as the ones you describe here. Now that it’s getting warmer, I’m hoping that will change. Stay well!


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