May 6, 2020

Self-Isolation Day 45

Today is Day 45 of my self-isolation.

The world has not yet exploded into green, and the upcoming weekend is supposed to drop below zero again, but the latent beauty of spring buds is visible on the ends of the dull brown branches. Every year I have that moment of almost giddy happiness when I realize that everything is suddenly in bloom. The sight of magnolias, flushed and feminine, never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The glory of southern Ontario in spring can't come soon enough.

My sleep schedule is erratic. I go to bed anywhere between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Some days I'll sleep until noon, some days I'm up early enough to watch the light creep into the sky. (I am not a morning person, but I do enjoy the peacefulness of dawn.) Almost everyone I know is suffering from insomnia in varying degrees, so at least I'm not alone. The last time I took a sleeping pill I peed the bed, so I've been avoiding that thus far. Sometimes I'll pop a melatonin tablet under my tongue and hope for the best.

I've learned over the past few weeks that nobody can sing happy birthday on a zoom call with any degree of proficiency. Everyone is always self-consciously looking at their own face instead of focusing on the song, so it sounds like a 45 played at 33. I suppose it's good to be able to see how others see you in case you aren't wearing pants or there is something inappropriate in the background (a sinkful of dishes or a stack of porn or a pile of dirty laundry), but if this feature could be removed, video conversations would be much more natural, as we can't see our own faces in real life interactions for good reason. We're all such narcissists.

On Sunday I went for a drive alone down county highways, the Sonny Vincent tribute record blasting on the stereo, the window rolled down, the sun and the wind warm on my bare skin. I sunburned my left arm, but it was worth it to forget confinement for a couple of hours. Just a girl and a car and the open road. Fucking freedom, man. 

It's easy to forget that the world's gone mad when you're reading or fucking or picking weeds in the backyard or driving alone down an almost empty highway on a warm spring day, but the bliss of forgetfulness is ephemeral and, as soon as you turn on the TV or the computer, reality suckerpunches you in the face in the form of a restaurant delivery commercial. 

I no longer compulsively watch the news. Headlines are enough. I don't want to watch any more feel-good stories about how people are coping. I don't want to watch any more balcony singers or read any more historical comparisons. I don't want to watch musicians performing live from their living rooms. I don't want to hear "PPE" or "flatten the curve" or "frontline workers" or "contact tracing" or "we're all in the same boat" or "stay safe," even though I frequently use that last one myself in written correspondence. I don't want to be reminded of the stages of grief and assured that I am fine at whatever stage I am in. I just want someone to tell me when it's over.

My dad sent me a photograph of himself in sunglasses and mask on a moped on a street in Thailand, giving a thumbs-up. I had no idea sobs were lurking so close to the surface of my otherwise rock-solid facade of cool until they burst unceremoniously forth when I opened that particular email.

The beauty of spring, a good night's sleep, birthday celebrations instead of death notices, a Sunday drive, a photograph of one's estranged father: there is reason to hope. Riot on. xo