Quarantine Phases

I’ve had a lot of thoughts stewing in my head lately, starting with the word “stewing” itself. When and why did I start using stewing as a substitute for something approximating “ruminating”? Stewing also has a negative connotation (or seems to), when in fact, I love stew. I love simmering a big pot of something and eating leftovers for an entire week. I suppose I think stewing as negative because I use it to describe problems I have — stressors, anxieties — that are simmering on a back burner. I know they’re there, that they’re slow cooking, but I refuse to check on them.

Stewing was a phase (or perhaps an ebbing and flowing wave, like a sinusoidal curve) of quarantine. I think we’ve all had our own quarantine phases. For me, initially it was training for a marathon. When that became a routine, it was finding the perfect bops on Spotify and exchanging them with friends. This still continues, but to a far lesser degree. There was a reading phase, a coloring phase, a Netflix (though poorly executed) phase. Now that I’m back in Colorado, I’ve transitioned into three new phases: trail running, taking photos of funky Colorado Springs houses, and going for evening bike rides.

The trail running was unexpected. I’ve never had the will power for it before, because, well, trail running is hard. Running uphill on a trail is hard. For a long time, I could only commit to hiking up a trail then running down it. A poor man’s trail runner. But I went for a trail run with my two roommates and our dog my first week back, and I was just so freaking mind-blown from the beauty of the trail, the exhilaration of my heart pounding in my chest, that I became addicted. I now wake up multiple times a week at 6:00 so that I can run as the sun rises, and I’ve never felt more goddamn ALIVE.

Taking photos of houses was probably an inevitable pastime for me. I’m told constantly how I’m an old person (I’ve been through this before — I go to bed at 10, I hate violent or fast-paced movies, I hang out with people my parents’ age on a regular basis) and I think this is another manifestation of that. Because as much as I love my roommates and the college houses I’ve lived in, I cannot wait for the day that I’m living in my own space, possibly shared with a single roommate/significant other and a dog. So I take photos of these dreamy, colorful houses in the hope that one day I’ll be living in one of them. It’s still a long shot right now.

Photographing these houses, I’ve learned a few things. The first is that life is too short not to have at least a colorful door — I’m talking a peach, turquoise, or yellow door, minimum. And heck, why not have your whole house be colorful? What do you want to come home to: a drab grey house or a popping purple one? The answer is obvious in my opinion.

I’ve also learned that there are tasteful ways to have a rock/fairy garden outside your house, and there are ways to make your front lawn look like a veritable junk yard.

Houses get extra points in my book if they are in a southwestern adobe style, have some impressive ivy vines splayed across them, or have a beat-up, classic car parked outside them. Houses that refuse to be defined, stylistically, earn my respect; “modern” houses in these old neighborhoods lose it.

I capture these houses on walks and on bike rides, the third new phase. You can ask anyone — I hate biking, normally. I use my bike to get from A to B and that’s it. But lately, I’ve loved just blasting music out of my ears as I cruise around neighborhoods taking house photos. You can just see so much more than if you’re walking, and during the early evening, the weather and lighting is just magnificent.

The only irritation — or perhaps begrudging feeling — I have when I ride now is that everyone is so friendly to me. Everyone seems to be waving and smiling at me as I bike by, and I can’t help but think: “You people don’t even ACKNOWLEDGE me when I run by, but on a bike I’m suddenly endearing?” I’ve decided it must have to do with my helmet covered in flowers and butterflies, my bike being too small for me, and my decision a couple times now to sport pigtails. I must just look like a pathetic teenager who refused to grow up, a female Peter Pan. Like Kimmy Schmidt or Jessica Day.

I wonder what the next three phases will be. My guess is cross-stitching, wood working, and belligerently yelling from my porch.

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