Mar 24, 2020

Self-Isolation Day 5

Here we are in the early afternoon of the fifth day of my quarantine. As I type this, I am looking out the window to the woods behind my house. Spring has officially arrived, but the trees are still bare, the grass is still yellow, dead leaves still blanket the earth. The occasional robin pecks at the lawn.

People walk singly or in pairs through the woods from time to time, with dogs or strollers.

I removed the chipped polish from my toenails when my quarantine began, leaving only the big toes intact. Perhaps today I will paint the rest to match and make something complete.

There are two enemies beyond these walls. The first is the virus, invisible, insidious. Like the pod people or the shape-shifting thing that attacked the men at their research base in Antarctica, it invades. We are hosts without knowing, until the first dry cough, the fever, the gasping, laboured breath. At this point, we will live or die, depending on our body's resilience and the availability of a ventilator. Sometimes we are hosts with no signs at all.

The second enemy, and arguably the worst, is humanity itself. In any zombie movie, there is an inevitable shift from the common enemy, the zombie, to the human enemy, the selfish, greedy individual who prioritizes something other than the survival of the species. Resources, maybe, or power, or scientific knowledge, or money. His own life at the cost of so many others. This individual will get his comeuppance, make no mistake. In a movie, this character is stabbed, shot, bitten, beheaded. In real life, he will lose his job, be unfriended, become the object of derision and shame. Hoarders and politicians, take note.

There is a great weight in doing the mundane things I used to do unthinkingly. Maybe time is the third enemy. I feel like I am actively trying to kill time, but for what purpose? Until I can go out for dinner again? See that band at that club? Die? 

I like being alone. Even before the quarantine, I spent a lot of time in the house by myself, but maybe I am a more social human being than I realized. It is certainly true that I throw more parties, plan more dinners and lunches and game nights, than I am invited to. This might explain my feeling of emptiness: I have lost my role as the instigator of social gatherings since social gatherings are now forbidden.

And thus, having identified the source of my despair, I can move forward and finally finish painting my toenails.