A Case of Serious Lackawanna
By Gretchen Althoff Snyder
There is a county in Pennsylvania not far from where I went to college called Lackawanna. My college friends and I had a favorite saying whenever we just didn’t feel like doing anything at all: “I’ve got serious Lackawanna.” Juvenile and lazy? Perhaps. The perfect phrase to describe how I’m feeling as the pandemic drags on with no end in sight? Most definitely.
When the pandemic hit in March, I experienced a burst of manic-like energy. I took three or four long walks a day (our dog was beside herself), brainstormed with my colleagues about creative ways to carry our nonprofit through the shutdown, and seriously considered reorganizing every room in our house (sadly this never happened). “It will only be a few weeks,” I told myself, I might as well make the most of a bad situation.
When weeks turned into months and it became abundantly clear that the pandemic was here to stay, I decided it was time to pace myself, the pulled hamstring serving as a not-so-subtle hint. Since school was shut down and my office was closed, my days started to blur together like the early days with a newborn child. Working from home in my pajamas, I tried with little success to keep track of what day of the week it was. Trips to the grocery store seemed herculean and involved masks, surgical gloves, and a whole lot of Clorox wipes to safeguard the ominous box of Cherry Pop Tarts. I had persistent dreams (more like nightmares) that I would spend hours each day driving from store to store in search of the ever-elusive Scott brand toilet paper.
The approach of spring and then summer ushered in a lightness I had not felt in some time. The long sunny days, warm breezes, and scent of the ocean brought a bit of normalcy to an otherwise chaotic world. Outdoor dining became the norm and I almost felt human again. Even the gorgeous days of fall, with leaves resembling a bowl of fruit loops and breathtaking hikes up the Hudson Valley, fed my soul. Firepit? Check. Patio heater? Check. I can do this, I muttered to myself, I can definitely do this.
Now, as the days get colder and the darkness arrives earlier each evening, the unwelcome but ever persistent Lackawanna is starting to creep in. While summer passed by in a flash, the days are now beginning to drag on (“Are you sure it’s only Tuesday?”). My to-do list, which I prepare with gusto every Monday, often carries on throughout the week, until it’s Friday and I realize I haven’t checked off even half of the boxes. Well, there’s always next week (and the one after that, and the one after that).
The internal motivation I felt early on in the pandemic has given way to a powerful desire to sit on the couch in my Old Navy sweats and play Solitaire for hours on my iPhone. I’ve spent more time on social media in the past few weeks than I have since I joined Facebook in 2014. All those little organizational projects I promised myself I would tackle now seem like way too much effort. My energy is sapped, my get up and go has left the building, and even little things like the proverbial “spilled milk” get under my skin. Despite my best efforts to keep it at bay, I’ll admit it: I am suffering from serious Lackawanna. In fact, I fear it may persist until this pandemic finally releases us from its mighty grip. I guess it’s time for a new Netflix series – any suggestions? Please be creative, I’ve pretty much seen them all.