Who would you choose to quarantine with?

I saw a commercial for Masterclasses online. The presenter was Vogue editor and fashion doyenne Anna Wintour. In it, she stated- “You need someone to push you who won’t hold you back.” Yeah. That’s it!  Making this time at home COUNT. Making the most of what we have and coming out… better (thinner, playing the guitar, mastering sourdough, learning Mandarin…. Becoming a day trader. The opportunities were endless with Anna at my side.

Starting the day off right.

That would be a great start. No more bleary-eyed 8:30 am shuffle to the coffeemaker. Anna gets up at 5. I am certain that quarantine would be no exception. She’d be sitting across from me at the dining table with , I imagine, lemon water or black coffee in china cup. She eyes me with my Contigo mug- “A travel cup when not actually traveling?” Her eyes seem to say. As I find the plastic lid with a hole in it reassuring, we agree to disagree. The other problem is that aside from myself, Anna, and a few Youtube yoga and fitness buffs, no one else thought 5 am was the way to go. So- I’m ahead of the day but not sure exactly what I’ll DO or who I’ll do it with.

Putting on the Ritz- or pants.

So everyone agrees that getting dressed first thing in the morning helps with focus and productivity. Even though many of us have spent numerous days in pajamas or athleisure wear (yoga pants are the new black) Anna is all about personal style. So I get dressed in real clothes- button my pants and don shoes and socks- and then socks and shoes as the reverse doesn’t work all that well. Anna believes success comes from uniqueness and innovation, and the importance of taking risks- “Be fearless” she says “You have to work from your instinct and take those risks”. “I have pants” I retort,  “So I may not be fearless, but I am also not pants-less.” Melanie for the win. The prize? Another withering glance shot over Anna’s massive Chanel sunglasses.

The question of livelihood.

In 1975 Anna was fired from Harper’s Bazaar and says everyone should be fired at least once- that there are many stories of successful women who got fired before their current successful job. I ask – “But what about a person furloughed from their side-hustle during a global pandemic?” She looks at me with understanding and says, a bit enigmatically, like a super-stylish Buddha- “You just need to have a love for what you’re doing.” She’s right- that, and a love for ramen noodles will also come in handy for the short term.

On navigating health and well-being.

With the news changing daily; masks, or no masks. A 30 day quarantine, or 60, or 90. And we see news stories of hospitals in Central Park, ad hoc tractor trailers as morgues, faces of first responders bruised from long, long hours in masks. I look to Anna- What should we do? She says- “Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision.” Then settling into the couch a bit she thinks about Ralph Lauren’s being diagnosed with the coronavirus and sheds a tear, straightens and says “this is a moment of “reflection, generosity and a shared sense of humanity,” emphasizing the importance of human connection (whether via phone or FaceTime) and “the power of creativity” in these trying times. “I know that we have challenges ahead — and please can everyone remember to stay home and be safe — but I also know we can get through it together, and even find moments of joy along the way.”  She looks tired after her long speech. I suggest coffee ice cream and a few episodes of “Homeland”- Anna smiles.

A word about these times.

The voice in my head that thinks I can somehow be good at, or WIN at quarantining is crazier than the one that occasionally keeps me awake asking- “do penguins have knees?”. No one can be good at this. There are productive, busy days and days you never quite make it out of PJs and days when you don’t make it out of bed. But if you are very, very fortunate. You’ll make it out of all this mess healthy and whole, with loved ones intact. And that would be a win. 

Be Gentle With Yourself. Be Safe.  And in case you wondered. I still don’t know if penguins have knees.