I was very fortunate during the pandemic. My close family managed to stay well, not catch COVID, and we were able to form a “bubble”. I am retired, so I didn’t have to worry about a job. I managed to keep myself very busy during the entire time. As I am a very strong introvert, I found it easy and comfortable to adapt to the stay-at-home pandemic lifestyle.
Short aside, I want to try to clarify what it means to me to be an introvert, because many people who know me scoff at the idea that I am an introvert. To most people introvert = shy, and that’s it. For me it means that I enjoy being alone, and I need alone time to “recharge my batteries” after spending time with other people, but I am not shy. I have no problem speaking in public. Around people I know, or in small groups, I tend to come across as rather garrulous. If you put me in room with a lot of people I don’t know, though, I retreat to the corner and hide. I hate to call businesses on the phone, ask a store employee for information, speak to strangers, or hang out in large groups. That is what introvert means to me.
Before the pandemic set in, I had a list of projects I wanted to work on but hadn’t found the time to do so. These included sorting through boxes of old photos, making Lightroom collections of photos of my granddaughters, putting together a photobook for my oldest granddaughter’s milestone birthday, processing photos from our Antarctica trip and helping my wife with a photo book, updating several of the sections of my webpage, refreshing the website I maintain for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Historical Foundation, and taking photos for the New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists’ Statewide Photographic Documentary Project, New Hampshire Now. I was somewhat successful with some of these, but others I never finished or never had time to work on.
During the pandemic I took on some new projects. I created a photo essay of Portsmouth in the Pandemic. Following the murder of George Floyd, I documented the local rally, Portsmouth United: A Rally Honoring Lives Lost. The Portsmouth Historical Society stages a silent auction fundraiser in the fall. This year it was online, and I photographed all the auction items for the auction website. From the beginning of the pandemic to the present time I have had three opportunities to publicly exhibit my photos and participated in one online exhibition.
So, what else was I doing?
We exercised at home most days, either on our own, or watching a Planet Fitness trainer on YouTube. We walked around Portsmouth and the local area a lot, probably most days that weather would permit. We are fortunate in that it was easy to walk around the city, or on nearby trails and beaches, while easily maintaining social distancing (more about this in a future post). In nice weather we met friends outside for socially distanced coffee/tea or lunch.
As part of that walking around, I took pictures, a lot of pictures. Some pictures were for my Portsmouth in the Pandemic project, some were for New Hampshire Now and very many were just to capture the world around me, as I would have done pre-pandemic. Taking a lot of photos is always followed by a lot of time at the computer processing and preparing the photos.
Our membership in the Southend Yacht Club (SYC), or, as we say Yachtless Club, as there are no yachts there, was one thing that helped maintain our sanity during the spring, summer and early fall of 2020. The SYC sits out on a pier in Portsmouth’s South End. So, we could safely dine and drink outdoors, either alone or with safely distanced friends. We spent a lot of time eating and drinking (and taking photos) there. It gave us a place to go. It got us out of the house and safely around other people. It is now reopened for the season, and we are looking forward to returning.
I attended Zoom meetings, lots of Zoom meetings.
As a representative of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Historical Foundation, I have been sitting in on meetings to help draft a Navy instruction for shipyard improvements. The Foundation’s interests are the provisions in the instruction for preservation of historical sites on the shipyards. Interestingly, all of our shipyards are historic and contain many historical sites.
I attended City of Portsmouth meetings on issues that I care about. I took numerous online photography classes and attended a couple of online photography conferences. I attended regular meetings of two camera clubs and a computer club. I got together for coffee/tea with friends when it was too cold to meet outside.
We also saw a lot of our daughter and granddaughters. For numerous reasons they came to visit us frequently from early in the pandemic until the girls began serious online schooling in September 2020. It was a wonderful bonding experience to have time together in our “bubble”. After school started, it made more sense to began visiting them at their home. Fortunately, we still see them frequently.
Being computer savvy, and in an older age group, we received our vaccines early and now (June 2021) have been fully vaccinated for over three months. We have been tentatively exploring what that means and what we can and cannot safely do, and when we should still be wearing masks. We are now comfortable going inside restaurants that are not overly crowded. In very many ways, life is getting back to normal.
So, that was what the pandemic was like for me. I never woke up when I didn’t have a plan for the day and things to do. I never suffered from “cabin fever.” I spent a lot of time outside. I was able to spend a lot of time on my hobbies. I had opportunities to see the family. I was very fortunate indeed.