Fluvanna residents talk about how COVID-19 has changed their lives

By Page H. Gifford

After the pandemic of 1918, which lasted two years, and a depression in 1920-1921, the Roaring Twenties ushered in a myriad of spasmodic social changes including wild spending, financial speculation, a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan, the emergence of the Hollywood movie industry, speakeasies, flappers, and jazz.

Historians believe that pandemics tend to usher in a new-age such as the Black Death in Europe leading, eventually, to the Renaissance and Reformation.

So what is America’s destiny post-pandemic? Many are wishing for their normal life back. Some aren’t.

Going online and going digital may have been a necessity but it is becoming a choice as the demise of brick and mortar stores and the inconvenience of shopping with social distancing are forcing people to make a choice. Online meeting apps, utilized by business are now being utilized by everyone to visit family, meet, and party.

“Zoom is the wave of the future,” said Deborah Nixon, vice-president of the Fluvanna Art Association, when she convinced members to try an online workshop since the group could not meet for a live one.

“I see more virtual fitness instruction,” said Jake Feden, a personal trainer. Spectrum is already offering online classes.

More and more people are going online to buy groceries and have meal boxes delivered with everything you need to make a gourmet meal. Many have said they opted to have Food Lion pack up what they order and they pick it up. Food Lion had this program before the pandemic. This idea appeals to people who like shopping from home.

Most said they missed being around people but have adjusted.

“I spend more time at home with my wife and working in the garden,” said Michael Jordan. Among the many pastimes people are re-discovering are gardening, board games, and puzzles. Hannah Youngblood, manager at Cuppa Joe’s, considers herself a puzzle freak, and the harder the better. A thousand-plus piece puzzle takes her no time at all, maybe a few hours. One puzzle a friend gave her took her nearly two days, breaking her record for swiftness.

Ron Harris took up the piano again.

“I have touched a keyboard since I was in fourth grade,” he said. Youngblood has also taken up the piano after a few years of being absent at the keyboard.

“A friend found a used piano and gave it to me. I’m having so much fun,” she said. Others say there is nothing to do in Fluvanna. Those who disagree are those who find time to be by themselves, enjoying their pastimes and indulging in self-discovery.

“My husband built a climbing wall in our yard,” said Leslie Truex. “My sourdough starter died, I signed up for a 30=day de-clutter course, got through the first day cleaning out the spoon drawer, and I am still on the second day on the 20th day of the program and my son and I are learning Electra swing dance.”

For someone who loves food and often writes about it in his stories, Warren Groeger is learning how to cook new dishes.

“I made an apple pie on the grill and it was good.” He also made a shrimp dish and other exotic meals with his newfound skill. Groeger proves the trend in home cooking is one that may last beyond the pandemic. Many families are in the kitchen cooking together, mothers are teaching their children how to cook, and grandmothers like Diana Pickral are teaching their grandchildren. She and her seven-year old grandson made banana bread. This may lead to more meaningful family meals rather than a pit-stop on the way to somewhere else.

However, everyone has voiced their concerns regarding economic instability, politics, recent racial protests, and fear of the pandemic itself.

Feden reflects on what had been his normal life before the pandemic.

“I had a couple of roommates I would hardly interact with because they were getting home around 7 p.m. when I had to go to bed so I could get up at 3 a.m. and get to work at 4:30 .am.” Feden was doing an internship at the University of Virginia in the sports department and was then laid off when the pandemic hit. ‘It was a crazy schedule, I had no time to breathe.” Once the pandemic got underway, Feden, out of a job, returned home with his family but saw it as a positive turning -point in his life. “My sister is pregnant with her second child and I wanted to spend time with her and the rest of my family.” He admits taking the time and being with family has become important and what he thought was a normal life – running like a hamster on a wheel – seems weird to him now. “I approach my relationships with more intent.”

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