After a couple of months at home in this pandemic, I’ve come to realize that I’ve forgotten how to do some very basic things. Experts say it takes 66 days to form habits, so it makes sense that in as many days in lockdown now, everyday habits are starting to fade from memory. Even the simplest things. Like how to unlock my front door with a key. I used to do it numerous times per day without much thought. I even have some of those colored plastic key identifiers so I know which key unlocks which door. But the other day, as I stood on my porch dumbfounded by the heavy clump of keys in my hand, I couldn’t remember if the pink key was for home or for my office door. I knew to put the key in the door, but which color? Choosing between the blue, green, or pink key seemed insurmountable. I couldn’t remember.
I’ve forgotten how to buckle a seat belt in my car. After all those years rolling my eyes on planes, now I sit in my driveway wishing for a flight attendant demonstration on how to buckle that belt. I’ve even forgotten that I need to wear the seatbelt at all, which I always used to wear, out of sheer habit, back when I used to drive. Now, when I get behind the wheel in my mask, I remember how to drive while I’m driving, which is probably not the best way to do it. By the time I get there, I’m just starting to remember how to drive. But I’ve rarely remembered in the past two months to wear my seatbelt.
I’ve forgotten to be scared of guns because for a couple of months now, all the guns have been under stay at home orders. So I’ve had to turn to being afraid of 25% unemployment and being put on a ventilator made by the same people who made the now deceased Chevy Volt. But guns, well, I’ve forgotten that they are in fact, one of the great plagues of our time because for 9 weeks a real plague took over the headlines. Until… the first malls were reopened this week, with… wait for it…a mass shooting. Yes, I forgot. Thanks for the reminder, Arizona. Now I remember. America, we’re back!
I’ve forgotten how to wear pants. Not how, but why? With all the back-to-back Zoom meetings all day long, I’ve forgotten why anyone needs pants at all. Why bother? Shirts, I’m all for them. Shirts with collars are even okay for special Zoom occasions, but I’m having trouble remembering why pants. Only motorcycle cops, teachers and plumbers really need pants. So I’ve cut up all my jeans and made them into masks. The fact that I can’t breathe through my Levi’s 501 mask is neither here nor there. At least I look good while I gasp for air through what used to be my back pocket.
Mostly I’ve forgotten, after two months of house arrest, what the day-to-day scurrying I used to do was all about. The 3 hours per day I used to spend in LA traffic? I can’t remember why that seemed so necessary. Or why I wanted to kill everyone else on the Hollywood Freeway who stood in the way of my commute? It seems so silly now. The working until 7pm most days? I can’t remember why it was all structured that way. I can’t remember why I rarely had dinner with my wife because the day always got in the way. I forget why I was living that way, back when I had a choice.
But maybe it’s good that I’ve forgotten many of the everyday things I didn’t really need to be doing. Maybe I don’t need to remember how to be resentful in traffic or get the right key in the right door. Maybe this smackdown is protecting us from the nonsense of everyday life in 2020 America. Maybe I don’t want to remember. I don’t. I hope, on the other side of this, that I forget to remember these things. These everyday things that I forgot.