Semi-Retirement (AKA Shelter in Place)

It’s the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fit.

This morning while working on a spreadsheet, my computer locked up. After much head-scratching and poking about, I rebooted my PC. A few minutes later, it locked up again. And then again. I’m the only one at work this week. I work at my county’s library system. Due to the coronavirus, we shuttered our branches on Saturday. And on Monday, we sent all our employees home on emergency leave. Most of my coworkers get a two-week paid vacation. The salaried employees are expected to get as much work done as possible, recognizing that there’s only so much you can do to run a closed library from your kitchen table.

I can’t do any of my job from home. I don’t have a PC. Okay, that’s not entirely correct, I’m writing on a laptop right now, but Susan uses it during the day to do her job. Her boss insists she works from home, and I have no interest in running complex spreadsheets on a laptop anyway. So I go to my office.

Like my salaried coworkers, I don’t have enough work to fill an eight-hour day either. I feel semi-retired. I get to work at nine, and I come home at one. For the rest of the day, I keep my eye on email. That’s it. I find it rather relaxing.

So, what am I doing with my extra time? Exercising. Each afternoon, my family takes a walk. We live on the edge of the Gettysburg battlefield. We have miles of lightly traveled roads in a park-like setting. This week, we walked some of my favorite sections of the battlefield: the “Culps Hill” loop; the “pretty road behind Devils Den;” and a trail through the woods behind my house into “the boy scout camp.” After each walk, I came home and immediately went running or rode my bike.

When my PC broke, I texted the IT guy and left for the day. By one-thirty, I idled on the couch reading coronavirus news, and Eli idled in a chair of his own watching TV. He and I decided we better go biking.

March 20: the first full day of… summer? Eighty degrees and high humidity. This is going to be a brutal year. Eli and I rode a shortish out and back on the battlefield. When we got home, Susan was dressed for a run. I switched shoes and headed out the door with her. Midway through my run, I caught myself about to complain about the heat. All winter I eagerly awaited spring’s arrival. Now it has, and I’m already bothered by it. Later in the afternoon, when it cooled down, Sophie and I went out for a walk.

This isn’t how I envisioned a pandemic crisis. I feel great. I’m relaxed. I’m sleeping well from all my exercise. I write daily. We’re making excellent meals. And because we’re all trapped at home, I’m spending tons of time with my family. I know bad days are coming. For thousands, they already suck. But right now, I’m shocked to say, I’m enjoying myself.

The coronavirus is now in my county. A girl on Instagram posted that her father tested positive. I verified it on a state website. Over the next week, we’ll see how well social distancing worked here. Although I read online that we already have three additional cases.

This evening, my boss forwarded an email from the Governor’s office. I’m getting booted from the workplace effective immediately. I need to work from home, shelter in place. This weekend, I’ll try to score a loaner laptop from the library and set up a workstation in my living room. This change will make me less effective at my job and probably provide me with even more free time during my day. I envision longer runs, walks and bike rides—at least until the Governor tells me I can no longer run, walk and ride. While it leaves me feeling a bit guilty, I plan to make the most of the time I’m locked up. Now I just need to stay healthy.

You stay healthy too.

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