So now we get to the part of quarantine where everyone is starting to get into the swing of the way this new life is going to go. We have gone through the phase where we couldn’t concentrate on our daily tasks from obsessing about the virus and whether our attempts to avoid it were going to be successful. We’ve made it through the first wave of cabin fever where we have discovered that, either we are more disciplined than we had feared, or we discover that when it comes to social distancing we can’t avoid a cheat here and there.
I’ve been pretty good. I have managed to restrict all of my trips to essential ones. We paid for year long free grocery delivery so the only reason I’ve had to go to the grocery is to get prescriptions from the pharmacy. It’s the one item they won’t allow third party shoppers to deliver.
I had to make a trip to Lowes. My toilet seat broke at the hinge where it attaches to the toilet. I bought a sturdier one. I also bought a set screw so that I could reattach the kitchen faucet. While I was there I bought sunflower seeds for the birds and the squirrels. And I had to buy some tomato plants or there won’t be any tomatoes later this summer. While no one of these purchases necessarily constituted an essential trip, taken together I think that they did. They made our lives considerably more pleasant anyway.
And then there is the stage that we are coming into now where it is becoming obvious that we are going to be practicing most of these preventative practices to some degree or another for the foreseeable future. I plan to wear a mask when I go out, stay home as much as I possibly can, and continue to work as long as possible, being thankful that I have a job in the first place.
As for my writing, I’m going to start scheduling my time more carefully so that I can write more while continuing to work full time at my day job. Maybe in a couple of years when the market has recovered and I’ve saved some more, I can start thinking about retiring from the day job and writing full time. Or maybe not. In either case, I will keep working to grow as a writer.
In this latest phase, we are forming into small pods of people whom we are willing to accept into our quarenteam. These are people that we trust to take the virus seriously and isolate from everyone not on our team. It has turned out a lot like the situation that one faces with venereal disease. When you sleep with someone you are sleeping with everyone they have slept with and all the people that those people have slept with, etc. It makes monogamy start to make more sense.
In the same way, when you add exposure to one more person to your team, you inherit exposures of everyone they have been exposed to. It’s actually quite scary, but at this point we have to take calculated risks. We have to have human contact. Zoom and texting and telephone calls can go a long way to treating our need for human company. But the closest friends are different. You have to find a way to see them, keeping social distance, of course. But sitting in the same physical space is important to the mental health of everyone involved.
That’s not to say that you should see them every day. It is a special dispensation that you ration like your last bottle of German sherry that you can’t find anywhere in the area. You use the quarantine experience to sharpen your appreciation for the things in life that it denies to you. You grow closer to the people near to you and try to be kinder than you’ve ever been before.
And in the end, you turn the quarantine into an opportunity to become a better person. As the world seems to fall apart in a chaotic mess around you, you focus inward and contemplate your strengths and weaknesses. You resolve to maintain this self awareness after the chaos starts to resolve into a new stability.
Wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, stay at home as much as possible, tell those that you love that you love them, and be well.