A letter to the Mars dweller

Hello to the citizen of Mars, reading this blog decades in my future. I like to think that blogs and the 'old' internet will prove to be a valuable historical research tool, in the same way that day to day diaries from the past are so fascinating to we Earth dwellers in the 21st century. I keep this blog occasionally updated for you, and for myself, so that my fifteen year old blog story doesn't suddenly end with a mysterious disappearance.

Despite a two month hiatus, for no other reason than I have nothing in particular to write about, I am surfacing again to record my experiences of the uncertain and often frightening period we find ourselves in; by the time you, dear Mars dweller, read this, it will have been given a name and doubtless many books and articles will have been written about it. So for you, my nameless reader, out there on another planet, these are the details of my life at present, inconsequential and trivial as they are. And despite some difficulties, I count my blessings every day.

For the time being, my Etsy shop is closed. It's the longest period I've taken it offline and I did it with sadness and some trepidation, as it was a valuable source of  income, albeit a modest one. However it's impossible for me to post any parcels now; before 'lock down' (and not being near a Post Office) I could wait at the post box at the top of the road and hand prepaid parcels to the nice postie who collects the mail, but it's not a risk I'm prepared to take now, for her or myself. 

Joe is a key worker - he has his ID and a covering letter from his company, in case he gets stopped by the police. He has no choice but to go to work, as a mental health support worker. We are minimising his contact with people as much as we can; he gets a taxi to and from his place of work, paying online beforehand (to avoid cash). Previously he kept the cost down by using the 'school bus' in the mornings and evenings when he could, but of course even that stopped two weeks ago. As a key worker, he gets a fare discount, which helps. His company were ahead of the curve with the situation and were already taking stringent measures a week before the government announcement. So he's as safe as he can be, though I am happier when he is at home.  

Food is not too bad. Living in the countryside without nearby shops or a car means that I always have at least two weeks worth of store cupboard and freezer food in hand. Almost all of our grocery shopping was, before this, done online. I took delivery of our last order ten days ago; a third of it was missing (and naturally those things were the things I wanted most; flour, pasta, rice etc). As my Etsy shop is shut, it will be the last delivery for sometime, while we haul our belts in. I have had several periods in my life when I was young and fending for myself, when I had little or no food and went hungry for days, living on one small meal or often nothing at all. More recently, Joe and I have been through similarly tough times, and had to ration food in order to pay the mortgage. So living simply is not an issue and I'm grateful for what we have, because there are people in far worse situations than we. 

Joe buys what he can from the 'we sell everything' shop near his workplace, just once a week to minimise contact. As long as we can get milk, bread and baked beans, we will be fine.

(I never thought I'd see the day when pasta become a once a week treat though; I hope that anyone who has stockpiled fifty bags or so actually eats it eventually).

We live a secluded life as it is and I have never been so thankful to be where we are. Yet even here, in the Shropshire countryside, the normally busy road outside the cottage has been eerily quiet. At any other time this would be a cause for relief, but not under these circumstances. My day to day routine has barely changed; I've been out in public twice in the last five months and barely talk to anyone in 'real life' apart from Joe and the occasional video chat with a best friend. I'm an introvert by nature, but I do, strangely, like the 'chatter' of other people's normal lives going on around me and I miss it. 

There was a day, back in 2013, a few months after Andy died, when I was in the bedroom, on a summery Sunday afternoon, trying to play my guitar. It was silent, save for the odd car passing. I was slowly coming to terms with my loss and finding myself so totally alone, unable to easily get anywhere for human interaction, in a strange county where I knew no-one.  It occurred to me that I could die, there and then, and nobody would realise for at least a week. During that terrible period, I looked loneliness and isolation in the face, trembled and then I stared it down. I slowly accepted that this was how things were and built a life in which I could cope. It's rather bizarre that this limited way of life is temporarily the norm globally, and while I am adjusted to living in my small bubble, I feel for those who need day to day human interaction.

One day, hopefully, this will be over. Our world will return to some kind of normal, though drastically changed and with great sacrifice by so many, especially front line health workers, our modern day heroes. So to you, my future reader from Mars, I send a little wave from the past and to anyone else reading this at present. Stay safe, stay at home if you can and be kind, because without kindness, we really are borked.

(P.S - find me more regularly on my Instagram account)


Lilbitbrit said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I don't mind being at home. One is not committed to go out and thus can stay home guilt free, I like the freedom that comes with that.

rossichka said...

Dear Gretel, hello! Your letter to the future touched me! While reading it, I was there with you - at this present moment and in the past hard times that you had to face all alone... I believe we are going to overcome this tough period that changed drastically our way of living, ruined plans and dreams, brought tears, sorrow, challenges, difficulties... But also revealed the good side of people souls, their love, care and generosity.
You wrote: "... despite some difficulties, I count my blessings every day"... Me, too!
We stay with my husband at home and go out very rarely just for shopping. It's forbidden to visit gardens and parks, so we breathe fresh air and enjoy the sun on the balcony, for we live in an apartment. We don't get bored - there're so many things that bring us joy! Our work is connected with children and now when all our running projects had to stop, we try to rearrange our activities. As a beginning our Saturday creative workshops became virtual and we make the puppets and objects at home...
As you see, I'm back here again!I wrote two posts after a long pause and this is one of the good things that I've done lately.
I am active in FB, too.
Hugs from me!!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I always love to see your posts pop up in my feed. Your writing is so eloquent and your creations magical. These are hard and difficult times for many and some are finding it difficult to shelter in place. We have been sheltering for over three weeks and my state in on lockdown until June 10th. I will admit that although I am an introvert and love being at home I miss my daily yoga class and the interaction with my fellow yogis. I feel blessed to have a nice house and all the food, etc I have and would gladly share it with you, especially my pasta if you were closer. It saddens me to think that you will not have what you need during these challenging times. I would like to help you if I could.

I will be praying that you are safe and well, take care of yourself.

Gerry Snape said...

So lovely Gretel to read how you and Joe are coping. We are blessed to have a big garden to wander. I love those pics of your home...stay safe and well. Love Geraldine..Natashas mum.

Unknown said...

Thanks for continuing this post. I have been reading It for years. Thanks for your resilience, humor, and thanks for your art.


Granny Sue said...

I enjoyed this post so much, Gretel. Since I started reading your blog in 2008, I feel like I have been along on your journey, even the difficult parts. I am glad you are writing again-I miss you when there is no post for a while :)

You are one of the fortunate ones right now, in that you know how to cope and how to survive on what you have. I wish you were closer so we could share! We too are fortunate, and are humbly grateful for our lifestyle that seems to have prepared us for this time.

Love to you and Joe.

Jess said...

We live in a quiet and remote place and being an introvert like you, quite happy to stay at home. I really feel for people who live in a flat all alone, no garden, no partner there with them. It makes me very sad to think of it. I'm glad to hear you're both safe, it's such a worry when I think of those in my family who are in the vulnerable group.
Love your message to the Martians! xx