“You look a little dirty. Why don’t you wash up before coming inside?”
This was not something that I said to my kids. This was said to me by my eye doctor. I guess that all this time in quarantine isn’t going to help my dreams of passing as a sexy 23-year-old Instagram influencer.
In my dirty defense, I had stumbled into a bush prior to knocking on the locked office door. Tiny seeds, which may or may not have looked like a rampant infestation of bedbugs, had burrowed into my fluffy white hoodie.
The administrator pointed me in the direction of the bathroom, bypassing the gallon of hand sanitizer that had been set up next to the thermometer. Perhaps if she’d thought they had enough to bathe me in, I’d have been allowed some of the precious Purell. Alas.
A moment later, I stumbled out of the bathroom. The stumbling couldn’t have helped my cause, either. I wanted to blame my long flare-out, albeit pajama-resembling, pants. I call them my pre-retirement retirement slacks. Most people would call them sleepwear. It is an error in design (or perhaps an error in my hip width) that I keep tripping over the bell-bottom flare-outs — or at least that is what I told the administrator when she eyed me suspiciously. The reality, however, is different. She thought I was drunk. I knew that the truth is far worse: I’ve been sitting on my butt for so many months that walking has become an abnormal exercise.
Everyone has heard the saying, “It’s like riding a bike.” The implication is that once you learn how, you can always do it again. And though that might be true, no one references that first 30 seconds when you get on a bike after a long absence and you swerve from left to right until you catch your balance and proceed forward in the intended direction. That’s all that was happening to me! Only it was with walking.
I’m not helping my case, am I?
“That was quick,” the administrator said to me, clearly hoping I’d go back into the bathroom.
“I’m not drunk,” I said, trying to sound light and self-depreciating. That also didn’t help my case.
Most of my jokes in these types of moments don’t land. There was the time I locked my baby in my car as I was getting him strapped in to take him to day care. I, of course, panicked, immediately calling 911. When the firefighters arrived four minutes later, I was asked why I’d locked him in the car. Which, to me at the time, was an absolutely absurd question. Why? “Because I love seeing firemen,” I responded.
Wrong answer. I get that now.
The administrator guided me to the Purell. She nodded to it, silently insisting that I coat my just-washed hands with it. I turned my head to my shoulder and sniffed. Nope, I smelled fine. I just looked a mess — as if Sophia from “The Golden Girls” joined Oscar’s gang of Grouchketeers. It’s the seeds, I tell ya! Also, I hadn’t washed my hair in a week. Week and a half? I’m not sure.
My mom asked why I haven’t found quarantine to be the perfect opportunity to go on a diet and start exercising. I can’t say why. It does seem to be perfect timing on paper, but it has not been my reality. Walking straight into bushes is my reality.
The lack of self-care is at an all-time high as we scramble to get our home and hearts ready to take off in an RV for a while. The RV is in the shop for maintenance, so we have taken ourselves into the shop, as well, in the form of dentists, pediatricians and eye doctors.
It occurs to me that taking care of myself will not be easier when living with my children and husband in a tiny box on wheels. There will have to be a significant mind shift that happens. It’s easy to leave yourself behind when you’re stuck at home. Even easier when you’re on the road.
In the exam room, the eye doctor asked me whether I wanted to take off my hoodie.
“They’re seeds!” I exclaimed.
He looked puzzled.
“Yes, I can see that,” he said, mildly condescendingly. “Let’s check your vision. We want to make sure you see yourself and the world beyond it. What letter do you see?”
Katiedid Langrock is a nationally syndicated columnist.