2021 | Coronavirus Chronicles

Coronavirus Chronicles: Learning to coexist is the spice of quarantine life

'Moving past these petty irritants hasn’t been easy, but it has been clarifying.'

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Irene Schindler tries to make sure each spice is in its rightful place.

Photos from Irene Schindler

(Editor’s note: This essay is part of Bethesda Beat’s Coronavirus Chronicles personal essay series. Visit the submission page to learn more.) 

A strange thing has happened at my house. We aren’t fighting about the usual things. An unspoken truce has taken hold and the normal grievances that provoke an over-the-top response haven’t occurred.

No outbursts just because a few deposits of white gelatinous bagel entrails tossed into the sink congealed.

No groans about the incessant tissues that just miss the interior of the trash can, and not even one smirk over the misappropriation of oven mitts — apparently, they are migratory.

None of these domestic tensions seems worthy of snark, bite or even a muttered musing.

Instead, we — well, my husband and I have independently reached a conclusion that with the world on fire outside, why light a match inside. 

I’m bored with the usual sniping, carping and couldn’t-you-just-once diatribe. By now, the answer is obviously, No, I couldn’t, or I choose not to.

Irene Schindler and her husband, Rick, work out their issues about tissues.

Or, maybe after 26 years of marriage, I have decided that there are certain things I know my husband will do. And there are certain things I, too, am inclined to do.

Not everyone feels enlightened by organizing the spice cabinet based on one’s geographic travels, frequency of use, and spicy versus savory undertones — but I do.

And even though I knew the tarragon would eventually be relegated to Oregon instead of staying where it belongs in Massachusetts, I realize that these are minor annoyances with the quotidian elements of life.

Moving past these petty irritants hasn’t been easy, but it has been clarifying.

When you’re in virtual lockdown with a significant other, you can either line the living room with trash cans, or you can continue to move tarragon back to where it belongs — to the wilds of Massachusetts.

This tarragon/tissue compromise may not be perfect, but it beats lighting another damn match.

Irene Schindler is a college essay specialist, young adult writer and empty nester who lives in Chevy Chase with her tissue-tossing husband.


Read other essays in the Coronavirus Chronicles series.

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