I married my husband, Jay, 12 years ago today.
We were wed in a barn with more than a hundred or so of our friends attending. We didn't send out wedding announcements. Instead, we issued an open invitation to a Sunday noon potluck, guaranteeing a good turnout because someone was sure to bring fried chicken.
It was Illinois in April. Rain, sleet, snow, hail, thunder, lightning and even a rainbow showed up to grace our day. The officiant was delayed, not because of weather, but due to the difficult and untimely delivery of a calf.
Eventually though, we turned off the space heaters so people could hear and pledged to love, honor and obediently take turns doing the dishes. There was a clause added to agree to disagree about baseball. That's important when Cardinal and Cubs fan live in the same dugout.
But, nowhere in those vows was anything spoken about living together during a pandemic.
Make no mistake -- we are so fortunate to have the freedom to walk on green grass and wander nearby woodlands. We have freezers full of locally grown meat. Despite a couple of pantry blips with coffee and Bud lite, we have not gone without. We have children living and working from itty bitty apartments in cities under major lockdown orders, so there's plenty of perspective.
Instead, the bliss has become slightly blistered over social distancing and hygiene behaviors.
Here's an example:
"Max Brown [name changed to protect the not-so innocent] is coming to borrow a truck," Jay said as he headed out to the shop.
Me: "What ... wait ... he's coming here?"
Him: "Yeah, he needs to haul something. Why? Do you need the truck?"
Me: "No, but what about ... [insert appropriate hesitation, hoping husband would guess my distress] distancing."
There was a momentary silence followed by a series of eye rolls. Do eye rolls count as exercise? If they do, we are both going to be immune from the "Quarantine 15."
Him: "He'll wear a mask and gloves. I'll leave the keys in the truck and I promise we won't hug or even shake hands."
Yes, I eye rolled.
I just happened to be doing my share of the dishes as the man we're calling "Max" drove by the kitchen window in the truck. He must have had the radio on as he was whistling something and tapping fingers on the steering wheel.
When the truck returned, I handed my beloved spouse some cleaning supplies, a mask and a pair of gloves. When his disinfecting chore was done and things were properly disposed of, I asked if he'd changed his clothes.
To which he responded, while swiping at his pant legs: "Why? These aren't that dirty yet. ..."
While Jay knew he was marrying a journalist, I'm fairly certain he never figured it would be one reading CDC reports on proper pandemic procedures.
I am far from a germophobe. Keep in mind I got married in a barn. I grew up mixing insecticides into planter boxes by hand and eating a sandwich afterwards. I'm pretty sure the half-life of whatever we dipped sheep in is still working through my system.
But COVID-19 and the protocols surrounding it have shattered everything I know about social mixing. I hope to heavens it is temporary, because the agricultural definition of old-nag is being tested in this household. I honestly don't think I used this many disposable wipes in all the years of diapering babies.
I got up early this morning and placed a little anniversary gift on my husband's desk. In this house, we believe every day is a gift and things aren't required to celebrate, but this year it seemed particularly important to at least mark the day. Even though we are both used to working in a somewhat isolated rural fashion, this prolonged stay-at-home calendar has days and weeks melding.
No...I didn't give him hand sanitizer.
My gift was a tiny framed drawing of an umbrella that reads: "I'll always be there for you." I purchased it long before this separation anxiety started. It reminded me of our wedding day when it seemed nothing short of a tornado or hurricane could be added to make for a more remarkable lineup of events.
Now, here we are with wild winds and plummeting temperatures providing the elements of nostalgia to our anniversary day. So, I placed a hand written note with my small token of affection:
"Love you rain or shine, thunder or lightning, snow or sleet. Come hail or high water, you are my sunshine."
I did not include the word "pandemic" to my sentiment. Sometimes, you just have to let the storm roll by and hope the rainbow isn't far behind.
Pamela Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
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