Like many people with some flexibility in income, I’ve done a LOT of online shopping during the pandemic. Aside from the obvious, like the Holy Grail of toilet paper, paper towels, and Clorox and Lysol wipes, and Easter, and Christmas, and my son’s friend-free, party-free 10th birthday, there have been a lot of other opportunities to shop.
For example, I buy books. If you had even seen my house, this would not come as a surprise. I have bookshelves EVERYWHERE. I have only started parting with some of the books I have read in the last few years because my husband put his foot down and said that I could not have any more bookcases, because the floors might fail. Despite the distraught culling of old favorites, I still have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books that I have not yet read, and hundreds more that I have. Still, I have made it my pandemic mission to single-handedly save our local independent bookstore, because, frankly, the thought of a world without Powell’s Books in it is too horrible to bear. After scanning all the book blogs and publisher’s Coming Soon lists, I make lists of every possible book that I might want – usually all of them – take every scrap of extra money that I can find and buy them. Sight more or less unseen. I have lost the ability to browse the spines, flip the pages, peruse the texts, ponder the purchases over multiple visits. What I have gained is the mystery of all kinds of neat books arriving in a box at my door on a random day and the simultaneous pleasures of buying more books at once than I could possibly carry through the store AND not having to see the expression on my husband’s face when I spend $400 on books in one go.
Of course, reading has been difficult sometimes during the last year, what with all the doomscrolling and newspaper staring that I have had to do in order to keep my state of horror and anxiety honed to the point that I could leap over the moon in terror if someone coughs discreetly behind me. So I have spent much too much time on my phone, as well, and have bought some pretty random apps. Some are games, some are for organizing, some are for tracking weird and random ideas or completing projects, like art, or knitting. Lots of apps are free, but some are free for five minutes and then you need to buy them to make them work. Some have caught on with my entire family (“Hue”, I am looking at you!) and some just make everyone scratch their heads. (Alas, “Dear Reader” from Apple Arcade, everyone thinks it is strange to solve word puzzles in classic literature except for me.) I even purchased a few that seemed like they would help my son organize his time and his work…if only I showed him, and we figured out a way to break through the ADHD to the extent that he suddenly gains a sense of time and the ability to not forget that he has an organizational system, that he should look at it, or where it might be at any given point in time…well, you can guess how that has worked.
There were other purchases, too, some big or small, some silly, some essential. I’ve purchased beautiful yarn from independent yarn dyers all over the world, for the knitting I will have tons of time to do…at some point. In the meantime, the colors and textures bring me joy, and I need that. We even bought fancy meal kits from a venerable restaurant in town which chose to package and sell kits for some of their “greatest hits” to be cooked at home in order to keep some of their staff employed and to keep the network of food producers and suppliers moving at time when restaurants everywhere closed.
Hands down, though, my best pandemic shopping purchase was the trampoline.
One whole year in, and that smile is still absolutely worth it.