Today is day fourteen of my quarantine. Last day of reporting how I feel twice a day. Of the tracker app a-buzz to ask, “How now? You there? You moving? Feverish?” Last day between four walls, twenty stories up, looking down on the traffic a-vroom, the river a-roll. Last day alone with only screens for glowing company. Last day without trees or parks, walks or sits down by the side of the river.
I’m happy to say it looks like I didn’t catch any covid-19 or anything else on my trip from home to home.
It has been strange.
It feels very different to self-isolation or lockdown. Imposed, not chosen. Correction. It feels very different at first. Soon, similarity asserts itself. The days that follow one upon another, layering together, melting into a lumpy porridge of time.
What have I done these two weeks? I must have done things.
Woke. Ate. Wrote. Exercised. Read. Slept. I have done things.
But they are all fused, the memories of days subsumed in whole, barely memorable. The work is there. Pages upon pages, carefully laid out, thoughtfully written, delicately illustrated. But there is no memory of it, not really. Sundays and mondays all stripped of meaning and distinction, become a smooth strip of time, barely there.
At the same time I have not felt bored, or even particularly anxious.
The work never ran out. The deadline was clear. My environment was controlled. Distractions abounded.
Correction. I have mostly not felt bored or anxious or distraught. Day eight was hard. Or was it nine? Maybe ten. It’s hard to tell which, but there, just a little past halfway, there was a day that was hard. Grinding. Every minute abrading me away. Standing at the window, looking out, and feeling like I was not even there. A ghost above the motorway. Weightless. Invisible. Departed.
It has been strange, but tonight at midnight I return into a ‘new normal’.
That meaningless phrase. We seek and crave normality. Stasis. A world that will tell us, just for a short time, that we are alright, that things won’t change, that the rivers we wade through will remain the same rivers, that the people we love will remain the same people. Normality, that imaginary comfort blanket we tell each other we all share.
There is no normal.
There are just days. One revolution after another. There are just breaths. One after another.
Until there are none.