Mar. 15, 2020, 2:09 p.m.
Have you ever lived through a pandemic?
If you had told me, a month ago, that I would soon be in full disaster-preparedness mode, blanching and freezing vegetables to last several weeks, I wouldn’t have believed you. (I would have asked you what it meant to blanch a vegetable.)
There are whispers that the dormitory might soon be quarantined. Our residents go in and out, without restriction. It’s only a matter of time. I order three frozen meals off Amazon. They arrive in short order, along with bags and bags of vegetables that are not mine. When I run back to tell the delivery man, he is gone. He, like everyone else, is “social-distancing.”
I learn how to do it on YouTube, the blanching. I put on a video of a happy woman from the South who says We’ve got a really nice crop of peppers this year, her voice cheerful with the comfort and levity of another time. In my dim Manhattan apartment, alone, I feel as though I am looking through a porthole. You don’t want to boil the peppers too long, just enough to blanch them, she says. Then you can freeze them. I do as I am told. My kitchen counter is covered in carrots, green onion, and so many yellow peppers. Why did they order so many peppers?
I blanch them, bag them, put them in the freezer, for what? I’m not sure.
I look out my window. The streets are empty, yet the eerie tinkling music from an ice cream truck persists. Someone has released six star-shaped blue and silver balloons into the open air. I watch them until they are out of sight.