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Hitting the Wall

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Staying hydrated is the only way to get through.

We’ve done it! We’ve made it through one year of the covidian lockdown. What should we do to celebrate? Break out the champagne or burst into tears?

Neither. I hate champagne and I’ve cried enough.

What I’d like to do is get a pedicure, pack a bag, and get on an airplane.

Before the pandemic era (BPE) I had several trips planned. Mr. Hockey had even bought me a new suitcase. The hard-sided, lightweight, type with four wheels that glide across shiny airport floors.

I pack my clothes in red nylon packing cubes. Packing cubes are the answer to your organizational prayers. BPE, I might have written a column about them – about how you can put each day’s outfits in their own cube, or all your underwear in one cube, your pants in another, tops in another, and so on. The column would have been captivating.

Or I could have written about pedicures. Imagine! Nine hundred words about cutting cuticles and callous removal. I would have discussed the hilarious and punny nail polish names such as, “Talk to the Sand,” “The snuggle is Real,” and “Throw in the Towel.”

(Editor, please note. When things get normal, these columns are happening.)

The glorious BPE! When everything shimmered like airport floors and my toenails. Travel! Pampering! I miss it.

Sometimes I think “Throw in the Towel” isn’t just a nail color. It’s a metaphor.

I’m feeling low. I may have hit the proverbial pandemic wall. I say “proverbial” because the term “pandemic wall” has only been in our lexicon since January 14th, when the NPR host, Tanzina Vega, tweeted about it.

Although the expression is barely two months old, it feels as though we’ve always known it. “Pandemic Wall” should be the Merriam-Webster phrase of 2021’s first quarter, which, incidentally, has lasted a year.

Ms. Vega’s tweet alludes to the wall athletes encounter when running a marathon. Runners typically “hit the wall” around the 20th mile as their levels of carbohydrates deplete. The brain has to find other sources of energy stored in the body.

With the brain working at such a basic level, the runner may experience feelings of fatigue and negativity.

I had to ask my marathoning friends about “the wall.” Because I don’t run. Obviously.

One friend said she felt despair. The other said, “It was like my legs weighed 100 pounds and I was running in wet cement.”

Negativity. Despair. Fatigue. Wet cement.

Can you believe people choose to run 26.2 miles?

I get what Ms. Vega was talking about. We’re in the twentieth mile of this pandemic. There’s a vaccine. We can see the finish line. But our will to continue quarantining has been depleted.

We’re slogging through wet cement. The only difference is, between the banana bread, sourdough, and Girl Scout cookies, we’re awash in carbohydrates.

When did I hit my wall? Was it when my digestive system explosively decided that two cups of morning coffee is too much? Was it the sixth time I had to clear snow off the top of my car with a broom? Was it when the broom broke?

Was it the 1231st time I passive-aggressively asked one of the hockey pucks, “Is this your cup?” before not-so-passive-aggressively putting it in the dishwasher? Was it when I had to pay Amazon $19.99 on top of already paying for Amazon Prime just so we could watch “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar”?

You tell me. When did I hit my wall?

I realize I’m incredibly lucky. I know there are people under way more pressure than I am. The stress of trying to stay safe this past year has been hard on everyone.

If you haven’t hit the pandemic wall yet, you probably will. The wet cement is across the entire road.

How do we get through it?

A running website suggests disassociation or distraction by focusing on the crowds and scenery.

We could do that! If you can’t choke down another piece of sourdough, it might be time for a new hobby. How about making a bird bath out of your old CDs and DVDs? The benefits are taking your mind off the pandemic, decluttering your home, beautifying your yard, and providing a respite for the birds. It’s a win-win-win-win.

The running websites also say to stay hydrated. That’s not particularly applicable here. Unless by hydration they mean chardonnay – then I’m in.

My running friends got through their walls because they ran with a pal or saw a friend on the sidelines. We could do that! Call one of your buddies. Have a little bitch-fest about the cost of streaming services, your digestive system, or your talon toes.

One running friend added, “I understand why people write their names on their shirts, so the crowd can cheer them as they run by. That keeps them going.”

We could write our names on our masks! I’d be stoked if I was in the King Kullen toilet paper aisle and I heard, “Woo hoo, Tracy! Keep going! You’ve got this!”

Ultimately, pure willpower will get us through. Putting one foot in front of the other. After all, you can’t finish a marathon without schlepping through that damned 20th mile.

So, forge ahead. If you’re struggling, know that I’m on the sidelines/stalking you in the toilet paper aisle, cheering, “Woo hoo [your name]! You’ve got this! Keep going!”

And don’t forget: Stay hydrated!

Published in The East Hampton Star on March 11, 2021

Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

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