April 2, 2020 by readlisaread
Apologies to Dickens and Marquez
It sure as fuck isn’t the best of times, but you know, it’s not the worst of times either. At the time of this writing, it’s about 3 weeks or so of isolation/social distancing. In this time, I’ve been out of my apartment to get groceries 3 or 4 times. I go for a walk or two every day, by myself, keeping great distance from anyone I might meet. I’m glued to a device every morning for Prime Minister Trudeau’s daily address. That’s the only live “news” I subject myself to. I’m past the point of needing reassurance. I’m now in the “grit my teeth and bear down” phase.
This is my road map of the last few weeks. At this point, I’m guessing we are not even half way through this pandemic, this crisis, this unbelievable health issue reminiscent of plagues and outbreaks of the distant past.
I did not see this coming. As is common in times of extreme stress, time has lost its meaning, to me, in the larger sense. In the very beginning, information and events seemed to shift rapidly, hourly, but now, everything seems to have slowed down. In fact, that’s my new mantra. Slow down. This is a shocking and once-in-a-lifetime (I hope) situation. There is no benefit to rushing towards anything. So, here is how it all seemed to go down for me.
January: Hearing bad things from China, the Wuhan Province, particularly. Shrugged and carried on.
Early February: Worse news from China. Brow furrowed.
Late February: Terrible news from China, and sudden critical and shocking news from Italy. Perplexed and confused.
First week of March: WHO suggests compromised people consider staying away from crowds, getting supplies on hand, consider having two weeks of emergency preparedness prepared. I had a conversation with an acquaintance who had just gone out and bought her two weeks’ worth of Isolation Supplies and Groceries. Thought to myself: Wow…. overreact much?
Late in the first week of March: Suddenly, shit got very, very real. That may explain the inexplicable run on toilet paper (I will never understand that). But suddenly, everything changed. Hourly the sand seemed to shift under our feet. Suddenly, I had two roommates: Fear and Anxiety.
Second Week of March: Everything is cancelling, closing, postponing, ending. My son comes home from University, he and his sister and Dad close ranks, get groceries, make plans. I begin a cycle of abject fear and overwhelming sadness (which I hide successfully)
Third week of March: Go into the grocery store for the first time in a week, and even though I did not want to buy any seafood or meat, come around the corner to see those counters empty and closed for the foreseeable, I burst into tears (which I do not hide successfully)
End of March: Accept that this is the new normal, for awhile, and no longer care about cancellations, postponements and timelines. I double down my protocols– leaving my shoes outside, washing clothes that I wore outside daily, spraying down with alcohol solution doorknobs, groceries and basically anything i touch. I am far less overwhelmed. I am resolute.
Beginning of April: Work, the new work, starts up again. I take in little bits of information a little bit at a time, and very Zen-like ignore things that will make me anxious. I feel like I could/should be doing more, and then I imagine Justin Trudeau popping out of Rideau Cottage like one of those Swiss-Clock barometric pressure devices I remember from my childhood, telling me how I can serve: “Go home, and stay home. That is how you can serve.” And so I do, stay home, in my suddenly very small world of no physical contact, no social contact that isn’t electronic, not shopping, no grooming appointments, no coffee shoppe lingering. And I’m okay with this new slow life. And I breathe.
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