Today I'm going for some blood tests. I must confess that I usually feel anxious about blood tests but with COVID here I feel more anxious than ever. What if they find I have some underlying condition that makes me more susceptible? I'm already not convinced that I am doing the social distancing thing very well.
On the news this morning we heard that there have been no new cases reported in the last few days. We are still at 17 and those people are quarantined at home. They also mentioned that there were a number of Trinidadians who have been quarantined here since their government closed their borders and they got back a day late from a cruise. I must confess that my first feeling was a very selfish one. Why should we take them when their own country won't and put us at risk? Don't we need our equipment for our own population? I was kind of shocked at my thought. And it is making me realize why people are hoarding and how things could get out of hand. I am reminding myself to love my neighbor and be nice to myself as those thoughts may be fleeting but I need to act in the way that I am accustomed - with the kindness and generosity I would want shown to me.
In other news, I am missing my ex. These days he is in self isolation/quarantine after travel. And before that I would see him very infrequently. But I’m missing the years ago version of him. Maybe its because of graduation goggles (and if you ever watched How I Met Your Mother then you know what that is). Maybe its because I haven’t had any physical contact for weeks. I don’t think that humans can or should go that long without physical contact. I am not someone who has a love language of physical touch, and I can only imagine how those people must feel, especially if they happened to be single before social isolation set in. I mean - are people still falling in love at this time? I’m sure that the ones who already are together are finding ways to make it work, but what about those who are single. Or who happened to travel right before the virus started to spread and are separated from their partners? These are the things that are going through my mind. Clearly I need something to do!! Here I sit, missing his smile. His laugh and his hugs.
OK…. time to get the crochet out!!! Sigh……….. #loveinthetimeofCOVID
I finally have some words for what has been bothering me over the past few days since we mounted our response here and watching the response worldwide. I feel like the fear of the virus is sparking a fear of each other. A fear of simple human contact. A fear of a cough or sneeze - two common bodily functions. I went to the supermarket yesterday and there were large screens mounted by each cashier. I get the practicality of it. But the visual made me feel like the threat of illness and this fear is separating us from each other at a time when we need one another. A loss of meeting together in the spaces that might be a source of comfort, such as churches and schools.
And there are ways to build community in all of this.
But I'm guilty too. I've been dodging phonecalls from friends because I don't want to discuss their opinion of the appropriateness of the government response, or where we can get masks from. At a time where I also would like some community, I'm not sure how to build it in a way that actually feels like it would be beneficial.
25 March 2020
I am tired. I was sitting on a plastic chair having tea with a friend of mine. Don’t judge me. I know what it means to practice social distancing, and so we were 3 feet apart. But honestly, I am tired. Tired of being afraid to leave my apartment in case it causes people I know and love and strangers to contract a strange disease and die. Tired of the fear of contracting it myself. Tired of seeing people being shamed on the internet for not being able to stand being at home for one more minute. For feeling restless about staring at their four walls. For possibly escaping conditions that no one would want to be stuck in for 24 hours, 7 days a week. For the feelings that are creeping up on them as they do their youtube workout in front of their laptop. For needing touch and company to make them feel alive. For being terrified to sneeze in public (and other basic bodily functions) - even though the strong smell of bleach and lysol is everywhere.
As I sat in that chair, I became aware that my hair was touching the chair, and I was filled with the overwhelming desire to run home and wash it. I started to think about all the things that my hair was constantly touching once I left the house. I noticed that my diary and pen were sitting on a chair, and wondered if I should wipe them with lysol wipes. I came home, and washed my hands. Then as I began to undress to go into the shower, I thought about all of the places I had touched since I got home. Including the hand sanitiser bottle. As I began to shower, I noticed that I touched the shampoo bottle. The tap. The shower curtain. My towel.
And I felt tired. Tired of the fear that came from everything I touched. The fear that no matter how many times I wash my hands, I could not escape the inescapable - the sickness that threatened to consume us all. That no matter how much I sprayed and wiped, I would miss a spot. The false sense of security that the wipes brought, and the hand sanitizer - that made us think that we could keep track of everything we touched and breathed and that we could wipe every trace of life away. The fear of standing too close to my friends. Of getting a hug, or even a touch. Of sitting in my car. Of wearing my jeans in the house.
I grew tired of obsessively washing and scrubbing. I wanted to run outside and hug everyone. I wanted a kiss. A kiss from my nephew. From that cute boy I’d been eyeing forever. From the little old lady who was happy to get her dentures. I wanted to hold hands with those around me. And not worry about getting sick. I was tired of the fear, and I longed for life as we knew it. Would it ever be back?
I have been thinking about habits. About how resistant we all are to change, but yet in the space of 10 years we are all having face to face calls with our family members on the other side of the world with headphones that look like dental prophylactic heads stuck in our ears. And how in the space of 10 weeks, we have grown used to this no touch environment that has arrived. I wondered how long it would take before we sat on a chair without worrying about who sat there before us. Before we could shake hands and hug again. How long does it take us to form a habit in fear, and how long to let go of that fear. I suppose only time will tell…
And still… I went for a morning stroll with my camera, and watched a bee sit in a flower and drink. I stared at a beach that was for once empty of chairs and bodies. I listened to a podcast episode I recorded with a friend. The duality of life after COVID continues as it always has.
And I send you big love from a small island.
For other parts of her diary: