I am now in my 8th week of self-isolation and quarantine, and rather than climbing the walls at home, we have settled into new routines. While authorities still urge us to stay home where I live, they are beginning to ease restrictions in other parts of the country and people and businesses are slowly coming back to life. This is great news. We need the country back online as soon as safely possible.
I have no doubt we will continue certain personal protection practices with physical distancing for some time to come, until we have the necessary vaccine and treatment programs. It will be a new normal for sure.
In many ways, though, have you noticed how much simpler life has become? I now live in what we call “The Living Module,” the central living space in our home where we spend most of our time. The other rooms—kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, office—are places we briefly visit from time to time. It is clear we could just as easily live on a boat, with well-designed and efficient spaces and systems to support The Living Module.
People able to work remotely have found it possible and perhaps even desirable, depending on their job responsibilities. Video conferencing is now a mainstay of our social and business connection, and I doubt that will go away when this crisis winds down. I never really took advantage of Facetime before but now find it indispensable to keep in touch with family and friends. There is something to be said for seeing a face along with a voice.
To be honest, I am kind of happy to be living a simpler life, out of the “normal” routine of lunch and dinner dates, meetings, and shopping as a distraction or a sport depending on your persuasion.
The Silver Lining of Quarantine - A Chance to Return to Self
Another result of these lifestyle changes is that we have become more focused and self-reliant. We get by with what we have in our pantry and freezer. (Contests to see how many creative ways to serve Spam have become legend.) And when it is time to replenish our provisions, we are not aimlessly wandering store aisles. Dressed in masks, gloves, and eye protection, I come prepared with a list. I see others doing the same thing every time I go to the store, and I concentrate on the essentials that we need and have room for, along with a few special treats for the weekend.
We also spend more time together, even if that means we are doing our own thing. I may be reading a book or tinkering in the garage, while Laurene is busy in the garden or on her laptop in The Living Module. Our dog, Annie, splits her time between us. We are never out of touch and reconnect frequently during the day. I do the cooking, and meals are something to look forward to, rather than throwing something together because it is that time. I am also way more careful with the food I bring home and work hard to use it all and make it last. I am even aware of how much toilet paper and paper towels we use.
Does all of this sound familiar to you cruisers out there? We are refining our awareness and learning to live with what we have, and not wasting resources and our time without purpose.
When something stops working or makes a funny sound, these days it gets my attention and I try to figure it out. My isolation brings out my problem solving, handyman, MacGyver. Mindful of the risks of going out and the hassle of donning hazmat gear to go to the hardware store, do I have anything to fix it with what I have on hand? I usually do. Every cruiser can relate.
I was into the tiny home concept way a long time ago. I loved living on boats, a fabulous experience. And at every boat show, what a joy to listen to the stories from couples living on their boats. They would tell me that their Monk 36 or Grand Banks or Valiant 40 was the perfect size to live aboard and spend months together in the tropics or New England or the Pacific Northwest. Within their Living Module they have all they need: water, provisions, galley, head, berths, and storage. Everything within reach and the satisfaction of doing more with less. There is always space to store a sewing machine or grinding wheel if those are important.
Spending less time socializing has been a bit of a cleanse as well. By not going out as often, we avoid the same trap that awaits many new cruisers when they first take off, and later discover that not every evening should be considered Saturday Night and time for a party on the beach.
I live in Annapolis, but I could easily replicate my situation anywhere in this country. Or even better, on a boat, which offers the splendid option of casting off lines and moving simply for a change in scenery, even if only a few miles away. Much like the turtle symbol of the original MTOA (Marine Trader Owners Association), wherever you stop, you are home.
Sounds about right to me.
My other conclusion from this period has nothing to do with quarantine, only the timing and how it surfaced. It is the subject for my next article, where I make a case for buying a new boat.
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