column nick greenizan

COLUMN: Taking a page from the hermit handbook

The excitement of going out into the world has worn off

We were out of cream, and in our coffee-addicted household, this constituted a real emergency.

I was left with two options – make a quick 10-minute trip to the grocery store, or drink my coffee black.

I chose the former, which meant I actually had to – gulp – leave the house. I put on pants and everything.

Talk about a chore.

It was at that point that I realized what I had become – or more accurately, what this pandemic had made me into: a recluse.

About a year ago, we were all heading into the first few days of what at times has felt like a never-ending lockdown, and I recall the excitement that even the most mundane of errands would bring.

We have to get groceries? Sign me up. Need a bottle of wine? I’ll go. We’re out of laundry detergent? Where are my keys?

Every little outing felt like a trip to Disneyland. There were times I felt like a dog in a car. If it was safe to drive with my head out the window, cheeks flapping in the breeze, I might’ve done it.

What a difference a year makes.

Last summer, I wrote a column about how great it felt to get out and go for a walk – I may have compared myself to a prisoner on day parole – but now? Now, I feel like I’ve grown accustomed to my hypothetical cell, even though most actual prisons don’t allow inmates to have king-size beds and flat-screen TVs.

This transformation – from bemoaning the fact I can’t leave the house, to complaining now that I have to – follows a path akin to the five stages of grief.

At first, there was denial – “This COVID thing isn’t that bad. It’ll be fine,” – followed swiftly by anger, bargaining, and depression – staying away from family over the Christmas holidays only made it worse.

There’s a line in one of the more recent Rocky movies, where Sylvester Stallone’s title character says, “If you stay in one place long enough, you become that place,” and while my house and I don’t have a lot of similarities aside from a few unsightly curves and a tendency to be cold, one thing is the same – both our foundations are firmly rooted in the ground beneath us.

All of this is to say the excitement of going out into the world has worn off – a thought that I freely admit would be right out of the hermit handbook, if such a thing were to exist.

This feeling was further cemented last week, after my wife and I signed up for Amazon Prime, the expedited shipping service brought to you by everyone’s favourite billionaire. (The merits of such a service, and the company in general, is column fodder for another day).

I know grocery-delivery services aren’t new – and have only increased in popularity during the pandemic – but we’ve never availed ourselves of them, mostly because we live not more than four blocks away from two grocery stores.

But things are different now. The last year has changed us – and probably not for the better. Whereas before, a trip to the store seemed like a novelty, now, the novelty is in not having to go at all.

I’m sure at some point, that too will wear thin, and I will once again throw open my door and go outside. But for now, I’ve moved beyond that fourth stage of grief and into the fifth – acceptance that indoors is my happy place.

At least until I’m once again faced with the prospect of drinking black coffee.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.