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Illustration of darkening interior, by Hadley Hooper
Illustration by Hadley Hooper

“At the end of the day, I watch night fall.”

By Elinore Standard


It has taken the COVID quarantine to make me realize I can’t keep up. For a long time, well into my 80s, I thought I was doing OK.

I live alone and am used to isolating. My beloved family are nearby but they don’t hover. I don’t watch TV now that sports are gone. I binge on movies via Acorn and Netflix. I shop at Amazon. I listen to Spotify. I read junk. I eat oddly.

I worry about falling and not getting up. I walk outdoors often but not every day. From my intown eyrie, I see weather roll in across the mountains and lake. At the end of the day, I watch night fall. I am filled with gratitude for this “one wild and precious life.”

I worry about young people and their future. I think about forgiveness by the Central Park birdwatcher and the fury in our nation. I suspect my own complicity. I despair about lives upended and deaths untended. I see miles-long queues for food and think the virus has unmasked reality.

I am swamped in email and send most to Trash. Being in touch electronically is a mixed blessing. I read newspapers online and do the crossword. I look things up. I subscribe to a couple of periodicals and read them at the big dining table while I sit for dinners that take maybe 10 minutes.

I Zoom to meetings but never say much. It’s impossible to be a smartass on Zoom. I see my image in the square and think, who are you? I text and use Twitter. I feel compelled to find new ways to be—so exhausting.

I vet files and take stuff to the shredder. I give away clothing and books. I’m down to seven pairs of shoes, not counting boots. In my closet is a pile of fancy pocketbooks from before, including a Kelly bag in its original orange box. Jewelry, also from a different life, is locked in the safe along with heirloom Georg Jensen place settings for 13, never used. My shotgun and a couple of pistols are also in there, no ammo. I have Michael’s gun-cleaning kit and a couple of his shirts I can’t part with.

The days flip by, and the months. Eighty-seven is gaining on me. I worry about how I will end: I fear the virus less; anxiety more. I should be making lists, saying where everything is, instructing from Beyond. I know this: it will take maybe two days for a crew to come in here and clear everything out. It will be clean, empty space all ready to be sold.


Elinore Standard CW’55 is the coeditor with Laura Furman of Bookworms: Great Writers and Readers Celebrate Reading.

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