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'Quarantine fatigue' -- or why my family jumped at the chance to go for a drive

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

On the seventh weekend of my family's self-isolation in the coronavirus pandemic, my true love said to me, "When are you picking up dinner?"

This Sunday was a special day, our wedding anniversary. Although the virus put a crimp in our usual plans for celebration over dinner at a fancy restaurant, our eatery of choice fortunately offered an ingenious product of American enterprise in the face of a crisis: "no contact" food pickup, ordered online.

Instead of complaining about having to drive clear across town for the food, I confess that secretly I was looking forward to the trip.

My wife, our son -- living with us while he is unemployed, like so many other millennials -- and I had been cooped up in the house for more than six weeks, except for food shopping and long walks with face masks on.

And with my wife and me working online from home and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning against any unnecessary travel, my neglected car seemed to be shouting, "Drive me!" from its parking space in front of our house.

On the brightest, sunniest weekend of the year, so far, a trip to Paris could hardly have sounded better than a leisurely drive across town with the windows open.

 

But then my wife surprised me. "I'll come with you," she said, slipping her shoes on.

"I'm coming too," said our son as he detached himself from the electronic gadgets that connect him like a cyborg to his vast personal network of friends and YouTube videos.

So this is what cabin fever looks like in the age of COVID-19. It's become a time when a mundane opportunity to get out of the house, even for a walk or drive in the sunshine, leads to my wife repeating, "Oh, it feels so good to be outside again," for the entire trip with a passion that she and I usually reserve for butter pecan ice cream.

And this is what "quarantine fatigue" looks like. Americans have been admirably compliant with the restrictions and guidelines enacted by the Trump administration and most governors to "flatten the curve" of new infections.

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(c) 2020 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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