When it seemed safe to contemplate re-entering the world after months of a COVID-19 lockdown, I got out from under a pile of blankets, got off my couch and went in search of pants that were not made of flannel.
It was the middle of May, after weeks of working from home, and I needed to fetch something I had left in the Leader’s newsroom. I easily found a “work” top and went to grab a pair of pants, but my drawer where I usually keep them was empty.
It had been months since I had to put on a pair of work slacks. I looked in the laundry basket.
I looked under my bed.
I looked all around my closet.
I grabbed a pair of yoga pants and thought it would be a better look to the world than pajama pants. About five days later, I found my slacks folded nicely under a box of winter hats and gloves. I can’t remember why I thought that would be a good place to put them, but at least I found them.
In the early part of June, I was getting ready to attend a luncheon sponsored by the Eureka Chamber of Commerce. When I started getting dressed, I discovered to my great dismay that my pants were a bit tighter than I remembered and a couple pairs didn’t fit at all.
I was shocked.
I figured I might have added a couple pounds in the last couple months, but not to the point where my clothes didn’t fit.
During quarantine, I had continued to train for upcoming triathlon races and even ran a couple virtual 5Ks. I had been active, but not as active as I used to be. The YMCA, which is where I usually work out, was closed and I had lost a lot of motivation.
Also, working from home made snacks much easier to access, being only a short stroll away. I did not have to worry about bugging any co-workers with my loud crunching or the rustling of my bag of chips.
Looking back, I have to admit that the anxiety and uncertainty of being in lockdown caused me to snack a bit more than usual.
Eventually, I found a shirt and skirt and took off for the luncheon. Once there, I quickly found a table and sat down, a bit self-conscious about my appearance. “Can people tell I added extra weight in the past couple months?” I thought. “Are people judging me?”
Soon a chamber member seated across the table from me started telling me a tale that resonated with me.
She said the luncheon also was her first public outing in months and while getting dressed, she found that the pair of pants that she wanted to wear didn’t fit and she had to find another that did.
I sat in shock for a few seconds. I could not believe that I wasn’t the only one.
I shared my pants story with her. I knew my relief that I wasn’t the only one going through this, so I didn’t want her to feel alone either.
She looked fabulous and if she had not told me, I would have never known she was having trouble with clothes fitting her. I would have never looked at her and noticed any extra weight.
It made me take a deep breath and realize people probably cannot tell by just looking at me, either.
Last week, I was asked to spend a day in the newsroom to take any calls from readers.
As I got dressed, I opted against struggling with the pants problem, so I chose a maroon dress and a pair of heels. Any of my coworkers can tell you, I have a large collection of heels that I regularly wore in the newsroom before lockdown.
Walking from my apartment to my car, I knew I had made a grave error. The heels of my feet hurt like never before and I felt like a baby giraffe learning how to walk.
Once in the office, I kicked the shoes off under my desk and spent most of the day barefoot.
These incidents have been a blow to my self-confidence and pride. However, I know I have to count my blessings.
I might have lost my ability to walk in heels and I may have added a couple extra pounds, but I am happy and healthy and that is what we should all focus on.
So, if your clothes don’t fit as well as they did in March, know that you’re not alone. Re-entering society can be harder than you think, but as long as you have your health, you can buy new pants. And you can feel good that your purchase will provide a boost to the economy.