We are up 18 cases today. Overnight, 8 new confirmed cases means that we are in secondary transfer and in our stage 2 response. I am glad that I popped out for a walk today, and I will likely pop out early tomorrow morning for a walk. I am going a bit stir crazy in the house, and now that they are limiting how we move around, I feel more trapped than ever.
Monday 23 March, 2020
Social distancing is a funny thing. This evening I went for a walk. I decided not to work at least for now, and I want to stretch my legs while I can, just in case we get advised to stay indoors. One image that stood out to me from my walk was empty buses. The cross-country and St Patrick's bus passed as I was walking, and normally at this time they would both be filled with people weary from their day, looking forward to getting home, and putting down their bags, take off their bra (at least that’s me) and have a shower. They might be chatting to a friend or family member they met in the bus, or discussing the latest episode of brass tacks (a local call in radio program), or looking at their phones.
This evening, there were very few people in the buses, and the ones that were there were sitting alone, not talking to one another, staring out the window. I wondered what they are thinking. There were still cars on the road, but far fewer than I normally see. I even saw a plane coming in, and wondered if people on the plane were as spaced out as they were on the bus. I went over to the supermarket nearby - since there is one thing that I want to get. Now that we are in phase 2, they are limiting the number of people inside the supermarket at any one time. Instead, they were clustered outside, waiting to get inside. So much for social distance. I decided not to add to the gathering, and made my way back home. On the way, I spotted a colleague, and had a shouted conversation with him from across the road, instead of going over for a hug and closer greeting.
It is such a strange time. I think the hardest part is not knowing how long this is going to last. Will I still be sitting here in 2 months time wondering when this will end? 3 months? It reminds me of a Stephen King book I read where the lead character went back in time, and lived through the Cuban missile crisis - something that he had only taught about to his students. He said in hindsight, when he taught about it in history class, it had only lasted a few weeks, and more importantly - he knew how it ended. So he was utterly shocked when he went back to live through it and saw the hysteria and the panic.
And there is a part of me that is thinking about next year me, and my friends talking about how - remember last year when we had that quarantine for x amount of time? But there is also the now part of me that is anxious and worried about the future. And whether I should go back into work or not - since I am worried about spreading the virus, and about my own work stability. Worried about how the relationships in our office and beyond might suffer as we miss the tangibleness of communication that seems to be fading with social distance. Knowing that our words are such a small part of conveying our messages to one another, and that the listener’s own fears and beliefs are an unspoken part of the conversation too, and that when we lose the medium of eye contact, of tone of voice, of non-verbal cues, that our communication is emptier and flatter and less effective. Worried about the things that have been built up for years that can fall in an instant.
No wonder I am anxious. And yet, there are still moments. I started Glennon Doyle’s book - Untamed, and I love hearing her reading about her life, and her insights. It is making me think of a writer as a person who not only has the gift of words, but also the gifts of observation, of curiosity and conveying their ideas to another in a way that speaks not only to their eyes (or ears) but to their spirit. I am getting to help some friends of mine with different things - from taking action on their writing, to what books to read with their book club. I went for two walks. I stopped and looked at the flowers, and decided that tomorrow morning on my walk, despite its weight, I am taking my camera. And I started a new crochet project. It is something small enough that I should be able to finish it tonight, and so I’ll let you know tomorrow how it goes.
And I send you big love from a small island
For other parts of her diary: