Traveling within four walls

By Jan Wheatcroft

Here I am like everyone else inside my cozy four walls. They are comfortable, familiar, friendly walls and they protect me; however the spontaneity is gone. 

I can only think back to remember when I jumped up and drove to a bookstore, the local coffee shop, an antique store, my Pilates class or to meet a friend. Now it is up to me to create an interesting life inside the “prison” of my home.

People used to stop by for a chat and now we mostly talk through the screen door. People are wonderful—they drop by dishes of delicious food which gives me some change from my own cooking. I have begun to bore myself with pots of soup or salads and even my favorite chicken wings. These friendly donations brighten my meal times. 

I should be traveling. That’s what I do. There are still so many places I have not seen like Australia and New Zealand, most of the middle of the United States, Canada and all of South America. However there are so many places that I have visited and really wish to go back to. India, one of my favorite places, Japan, New Mexico and Oregon and some parts of Mexico. Reading about them and watching TV programs featuring life there only makes me want to visit more.

And then there are special friends in England and Sweden who I long to see and traditional places I know are waiting for me to wander around and poke through the treasures so carefully gathered for my pleasure. But these places are out of bounds now for others and for me. How do I travel and still stay home? How do I stay creative?

First, let me say that I am not a person who loves physical activity. Never have been. But my morning walk has become the highlight of my day. Some days I walk alone and some days I walk with my friend, Helen. We pick a street in the Village and walk back and forth, admiring the trees and gardens and examining the various plants. I see things differently now. The mornings are fresh and the gardens smell wonderful from the blooming citrus flowers. The air often has a sharp smell of just used fireplaces. There are few cars on the road and when we meet people walking they automatically move away. Often walkers meander down the middle of the street since there are so few cars out.  And when we hit a patch of sun it is so warming I feel as if I am having a large vitamin D infusion.

These morning walks have made me enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the nature around me and just how the people in my neighborhoods have decorated their worlds. I am refreshed when I return home and am stimulated with ideas for new projects; after all, we will have our shows and our exhibits in the future and I want to be ready when we are allowed to return to life among friends, in restaurants, lingering and chatting as we have always done.

The television is a good companion. I work very hard alongside the designers and builders repairing houses. I almost feel that I am becoming quite knowledgeable with the entire process. I am getting good at solving detective mysteries and I spend a lot of time involved in food programs. Well, that has always been a big interest of mine. Memories rise.

Living on Samos Island in Greece we often walked to Glifada, an area where the sweet river water ran into the salty sea. There, just before the two waters met, we would stand in the shallow water and dig up fresh clams.  Putting the two hinged parts together, twisting and one of the clams would open and I had the pleasure of eating the freshist, most delicious bite of the sea. 

One year Frances and I were in London preparing for a trip to France to explore and to eat oysters. One morning before the trip we visited the Borough Market and she bought two raw oysters. We stood there in front of the stand and slurped them down. I think that was the most wonderful introduction to a week full of raw oyster tasting, gorging and slurping. 

Many years ago I visited a friend in Philadelphia on my way to New York. Her husband took us to an oyster bar and said that I was to eat as many oysters as I wanted. No one had never before given me unlimited license like that. Well, I did as he told me to. I ate and ate, all sizes and from everywhere with lemon and sauce. I managed to eat 40 oysters. When I think of that now I almost get sick. But I certainly enjoyed the eating then.  

So I sit home. I work on my projects, I talk to family and my English and Swedish friends on FaceTime.  I love to see their beautiful faces and feel close to them.  I treasure the times we have had together.

Now with Zoom, we are meeting with The Some Crust Gang and that brings them closer to me. I miss our relaxing times together over coffee, just being. I know this ordeal will pass. Nothing stays the same. I believe in deep breathing and positive thoughts and nice walks. It is a pleasure to know that there are so many good people nearby and I feel so lucky to have many good and suportive friends.



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