I’ve never worn makeup. I’d love to say that it’s because I couldn’t afford it or I was a super duper tomboy but I think the honest answer is that no one ever showed me and I never asked, so sitting here at the age of 37 it’s just not something that I value. I see commercials for airbushing foundation or sculpted eyebrows and I wonder why anyone would pay $19.99 (plus S&H) to spray stuff on their face, not to mention paying for the makeup itself. Foundation and eyeliner and mascara and lipstick or lipgloss and eye shadow and it goes on and on and on. It’s exhausting to think about. For me though, it’s something I don’t have to worry about, because it’s outside the Venn Diagram that depicts my life. Of all the societal bubbles that I brought in to overlap to make ME, makeup did not float anywhere nearby.
On the other hand the circle for “Reading” or “Books” and the circle that just says “Amanda” are almost entirely overlapping. When I moved to Arizona by myself and began to make friends at work, I first asked where the nearest library was before I asked for doctor and dentist recommendations. I curate my holds list very carefully and make sure that only three books ever come available at any one time. I peruse the internet for recommendations by the authors I like or “best of” lists by different publications like Variety or Bustle. Reading calms me, it excites me, it inspires me. It takes me into other worlds, it makes me believe that I’m not alone, and it shows me how life could be or how it shouldn’t be. If you took all my books away and my Kindle and my access to a library and said I couldn’t read anything anymore, I truly believe something irreversible would happen to my psyche that would make me a completely different person.
When I see people truly losing their shit about not being able to get a haircut or color, when I see women getting into fistfights for the privilege of eating at a Red Lobster, when I see people coughing and spitting and sneezing on others because they aren’t allowed into some retail establishment to get ice cream or costume jewelry or Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels, I cannot believe what I’m seeing. Now, I don’t want to seem naive, I understand what I’m seeing, I know why it is happening, I just can’t believe that everyone isn’t as terrified of this virus as I am. The behavior I understand – white people in this country have proven time and again that they revert to toddler tantrum status immediately if they cannot get the Red Robin bottomless fries that they get every Tuesday night with a beer. I have seen so many videos showing this behavior that I don’t even feel bad writing it here as fact. These videos and situations have been shown on the evening news. It’s happening.
As we continue to watch all this go down, I ask the husband once in a while what he would lose his shit over. Or I ask it like: what do you miss the most? What would you break quarantine for? And whenever we talk about it the answer continues to be: nothing. There is nothing that we would lose our minds over to get from the outside world and risk getting sick from this virus. I’ve begun to think about it in these terms: what would you feel comfortable having people say at your funeral was the reason you got infected. “If only she hadn’t gone out for that Baskin Robbins two scoop cone!” “If only she didn’t have that girls’ night out at that bar!” “Why couldn’t she have eaten at home instead of that Applebees?”
Note: I feel it necessary to mention that only one of these funeral statements is an actual possibility because for the last two weeks all I have been able to think about is non-grocery store ice cream. Fro-yo toppings places, soft serve, flavored hard serve in a waffle cone, banana splits, sundaes, you name it. Still won’t risk my life over it though.
When the mandatory lockdown went into place here in Florida, the libraries shut down too. You could return materials but no one was there to check them in or sign them out. Shuttered. For almost 2 months the best you could get was a folding table out front with unemployment applications for the community and that was it. I had a few books already checked out that had their due dates changed to July in the system, but on top of that I had all the books at home that are either favorites that I would love to read again, or books I’ve never read that have always taken a backseat to library books that have a deadline. So I was only very mildly upset that my routine was interrupted, but I understood what was going on and honestly between my Kindle and my bookshelf and the library books I had, I was probably set for at least year or more depending on how long things lasted.
Did I not go to enough restaurants as a child? The bar scene is another Venn Diagram circle that doesn’t even touch me. I like going to the beach but for the past week it has been in the high nineties in Tampa Bay, with heat indices of 105F+ degrees. That sounds like hell and I haven’t even wanted to go in the backyard pool I have. It’s too hot and there is a killer virus on the loose. As much as I like the beach, I’m not going there this year either. So I cannot understand the anger, the vitriol, the absolute obstinate behavior of people insisting they be given access to all these things, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk, and I’m not even talking about the widespread refusal to wear masks and how governments are just shrugging and saying “well I guess we have to trust people to make good choices!”
I don’t need makeup, but I understand that for some/most women it’s a part of their identity. It’s something that makes them feel beautiful or in control, it’s a hobby, something they like to do, it’s an art form. I’m not here to shit on people who like makeup, and I’m only here to make a little bit of fun of people who still like Applebees in the year 2020. I learned long ago to not yuck another person’s yum. (Not yumming another person’s yuck is just as important. Just because you feel a way about a thing does not mean you have to go and convert everyone to that way of thinking – people are different.) But even when it’s a part of your life, are you able to go without it for a bit for the safety of everyone?
All of this comes down to the death question. What parts of your Venn Diagram are you willing to die for? And considering this pandemic, which parts are you willing to kill for? Even during regular times there are very few parts of my life that would answer those questions, and even if they do I’m probably just being overdramatic. But look around you. Every person packing an airplane or a restaurant or a bar is saying “I would die to be here. I would murder to be able to get this IPA stout on tap” or “I would die to be on this beach in the sun, and kill all those around me to feel the ocean waves crash against my legs.” Would you though? You had to go without these things for like two months, this isn’t Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
I took this situation as a personal challenge to find out what I could live without. I didn’t stock up on flour and yeast to experiment with sourdough, I did it in case we run out of bread and it’s not safe to go to the store. I love pizza, but I didn’t want to order out because every time something comes in from outside, it’s another chance to catch it. So slowly over the past two months I’ve been spending Saturdays learning to make my own pizza dough, my own pizza sauce, and get a large pizza baked just right in my oven at home. Can we grow vegetables on the patio so we don’t need to order canned stuff? I headed over to Burpee.com and checked out their patio-specific seed collection and ordered soil directly from Miracle Grow’s website. We got a treadmill so we could cancel our gym memberships to stay safe and still have a way to exercise, although I do admit this was kind of a splurge because I have enough exercise DVDs and weights to get a good workout, I just wanted to be able to take walks because my legs bother me a lot and the husband likes to run.
On too many others the lockdowns had the opposite effect. One giant chorus of “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!!!” rang out from sea to shining sea and only got worse when states decided to give in and start reopening too soon. You know the stories, I don’t have to recount them here. People decided they could not live without anything and no one, not even the Wal-Mart greeter, could make them wear a mask while they were out getting what was owed to them.
I can live without makeup because it’s not a part of who I am. I can live without a library because I have other ways to get books for myself. I can live without eating out because I can get it delivered or make it/grow it myself. I can live without movie theaters because I have so many DVDs and streaming subscriptions. But I think that at the heart of all of these decisions is that I can live. That is what guides all my decisions in this moment – if it puts my life or the lives of the people I love at risk, it’s a firm NO.
What are the people around you saying they are willing to kill and die for? And I’m not talking about working to support your family or going out because you need to. I’m talking about the wants, not the needs, and maybe that’s where the problem lies. Maybe people don’t know how to separate those in a meaningful way. No matter what the reason, unless we learn to prioritize or governments force us to with lockdowns (again), we’re in for a pretty bad time.