Years ago when we were young and courting, Cliff would ask, "You're on a small desert island and there's only one person you can share it with; who would that be?" (What's this? A test?) He'd then give me a group of outrageous candidates from which to choose: "the Reverend Al Sharpton, Idi Amin, Genghis Khan, or Don King?" At which point we'd have an emphatic, but hilarious exchange about why I wouldn't/couldn't choose ANY of them, with Cliff ultimately declaring, "If you don't pick one, it means you want Idi Amin." (Why I agreed to marry Cliff, I'll never know.)
Now comes the 2020 inverted version of that name game, by way of my good friend and colleague, Mavis Delacroix, which is "If you have to 'Shelter in Place,' which four people would you choose to shelter with?"
Mavis' answer was: "A Buddhist monk, a celebrity chef, a personal trainer and a social-media expert." It seems that Mavis and her grown kids have been staying in touch by posting all kinds of fun parodies online to keep each other's spirits up! (Way to go, family.)
Now to know and to love Mavis is to understand that she essentially stalked Hozier during his U.S. concert tour, and that she's had an inappropriate crush on Johnny Depp for the last two decades (no judgement), so it's a telling nod to our current world events, that one of her four choices, didn't include either of these men on Mavis' "Most Wanted" list. Instead: a monk, a trainer, a chef, and a social-media whiz kid. Hmmmmm. (Sorry, Johnny, I guess you're no longer "E-ssential.")
In pondering this question, I totally get Mavis' rational: the monk would teach patience, humility, and understanding through daily, guided meditations. The personal trainer would take care of the physical self with yoga, strength training, and pilates. The chef would whip up healthy balanced vegan meals (Mavis lives on avocados), and the social-media expert would harness the world of tech, hosting meetings on Zoom, creating fun and clever videos that would go viral, and converting daily life to the digital world, while simultaneously keeping us more connected to associates, clients, and the ones we love (not necessarily in that order). All in all, it's a well-rounded and thoughtful list.
Now mind you, Mavis is a single gal with grown kids who doesn't have to give up a coveted spot to her partner. She has the luxury of focusing entirely on self - mind, body and soul - while I, on the other hand, have a husband who is forcing me to live on a desert island with Idi Amin. (How many divorces will result in a post-Covid world, I ask you?) However, it does pose an interesting question; assuming your significant other is ONE of your four choices, who would you select for the other three?
Cliff: "Roger Federer for sure. Can I 'shelter in place' at Roger Federer's house and does he have a tennis court?"
Me: "No, you cannot. The premise is: "Who would you shelter with in your current home?
Cliff: "Why can't I shelter in my dream home with my dream people? Come to think of it, of course, Roger has a tennis court. Why wouldn't he?"
Me: "Because you don't get to suddenly move into a mansion in Monte Carlo; we're 'sheltering in place' in the homes we already occupy or own. That's the point."
Cliff: "Why do you get to make up the rules? Roger's probably expecting me . . ."
(I'll spare you the rest of the conversation. Suffice it to say that my husband lives for these types of insipid debates.)
But if the new reality is that we could possibly experience another pandemic or even a reemergence of Covid-19 down the not-too-distant road, the question at the top of the screen: "Can you see yourself quarantined in this house?" isn't just a clever Real Estate tag line, it may not be far off the mark with respect to a real-time, real-life litmus test.
In other words, if our homes are truly the center of our respective universes - as they've absolutely become these last four weeks (and maybe for the next four weeks, or more . . .) what does your home need to have for you to feel entirely safe, secure and comfortable while hunkering down, assuming of course, that Ghandi, Oprah, Ina Garten and Brene Brown won't be sheltering in place with you?
For me, it starts with an inviting garden to tend, a stocked kitchen where I can bake, a cozy nook with a good book, and gratefully, an organized home office that truly functions in a brave, new digital world, allowing me to stay connected with both friends and family, and yes, my clients, in a meaningful, smart and virtual way.
As for my peeps??? Cliff for sure (30 years later, he's still making me laugh), my twin sister, Jill, and my two grown boys, Tristan and Case. No doubt, we'd all drive each other crazy, (I'm okay with this experiment being just theoretical), but if I get to pick who I want to be surrounded by . . . it always comes down to the people I love most. BTW, dogs are a gimme. (I know I should be thinking more deeply and choosing fascinating historical figures, but I write a blog for goodness sakes so how deep do you really expect me to be?)
Come to think of it, with all those people in the house, I'm going to need a chef, a guru, a personal trainer and a housekeeper. (The kids will teach me the digital stuff.) Hey, welcome to the brave new world, although it's getting a little crowded in here. I hope you'll all go home soon. I need some peace and quiet.
How can I help you?
Question: Who would your four "Shelter-in-Place" people be? (I really want to hear from you!)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.