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Perspective: Two of everything

Illustration by Isabel Castanon

In these last months I acquired a habit that now controls my life: buy two of everything. When I shop, I get two bottles of cooking oil, two or more packages of pasta, two dozen eggs and so on. Empty shelves in stores taught me that I was not alone in this; there's nothing more shocking than not finding baking yeast where it used to be. Not to mention flour, sugar, and toilet paper.

Yes, it was the pandemic. We all had to reorganize our lives and spend more time at home. Internet traffic ballooned, street traffic ended, people spent loads of time in front of screens, working or otherwise, took up abandoned projects, hobbies, learned or improved skills, read more books. Me? I kept buying two of everything every time I shopped.

I've heard the pandemic can be considered the new depression because it left an imprint in all of us. In fact, I don't think I'll return to the days when one bag of spinach was enough. If I have room in the cart, I'll buy two. Same for milk gallons and coffee.

Is this the best thing to do, or even an acceptable habit? We want the pandemic to end, but then, will we return to our old ways, or keep the changes we made?

One thing's for sure: yours truly will keep buying an extra bottle of cooking oil for a while.

A Guatemalan native, he arrived in the United States in the late eighties on a Fulbright Scholarship to do graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. He has been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture at NIU since August 2000, and his main research interests are 19th-century Spanish American literature.