Isolation Diary: May 3, 2020

Well, that was a month, wasn’t it?

I didn’t mean to let so long go from one post to the next — stop me, if you’ve heard this before — but, well, the world.

Life in the time of COVID-19 is all sorts of things, but stressful is foremost among them.

It’s a weird kind of stress, too: ebbing and flowing as the days go by, sometimes — as in a grocery store run — surging up to a pulse-pounding near-madness, while at other times — at home, on the couch, content with Best Cat and The Empress of Whisky — lying quietly as just a mild tingling at the back of the mind that something is … not … quite … right.

And there goes a month.

Like Buffalo Bill shooting — “onetwothreefourfive, pigeonsjustlikethat.”

And, also, like the slow, steady cadence of the 21-gun salute.

Like the turn of Earth, gradually, day into night, while simultaneously orbiting the sun at 67,000 miles per hour.

These are the days of COVID-19.

Days of anger and rage, at incompetent leaders who first dawdled while we died, then rushed to put us back to work to save their portfolios while we keep dying.

And those same days, embracing all the love we have in life, finding new ways to live, to laugh, to stay close to family and friends, video conferencing becoming part of everyone’s digital toolkits, yes, even your parents’.

A month ago we learned to slow down, to hear the previously unknown midday birds, to dig deep in our libraries to find the forgotten books, to dig deep in our pantries to make the purple cookies, to dig deep in our hearts to make the best connections.

A month ago I started writing this, then let it lie fallow, the words needing time to soak nitrogen from the loam.

A month ago I started crying again, in the quiet corners of my mind, tears of sadness, pain, rage, regret, all the tears, all the days.

A month ago, the world.

Isolation Diary: March 18, 2020

Well …

If you’re reading this in the now, I suppose I can skip any preamble explaining COVID-19.

If you’re reading this later, I hope it’s a brighter time for humanity.

I’m writing, as usual, from the desk in my home office, a comfy space full of books, dimly lit thanks to blackout curtains that keep out the otherwise fierce daylight from the south-facing windows. (Don’t cry for my lack of a view — it would just be of a parking lot and another row of condos, anyway.)

I am alone, sparing the occasional visits by Best Cat.

None of this is out of the ordinary. It might as easily be early on a typical weekend day, with The Empress of Whisky out hiking.

It isn’t.

For starters, The Empress is away in Maine, visiting her parents, a trip she had planned ahead of the realization of the seriousness of COVID-19 in the States, a trip that may now very well end up being extended longer than either of us anticipated.

We’ve been apart a few times in our nearly 15 years together, usually not longer than a weekend, though. Once, in the early days, she took a two-week trip to Mozambique, during which we spoke by phone maybe three times. That was hard. This is much easier by comparison. We communicate — via text, call, or video — a few times a day.


I lose myself in thought on the word still, as I ponder that this is exactly what home is like without her — a still, quiet place.

Normally, I might occupy myself outside a bit — I’m introverted by nature, but I might still meet friends for drinks, or take in a movie or a meal out.

None of that is an option now, as society bears down under social distancing.

The bars and theaters and restaurants are mostly closed, sparing only a few who are late to comply with CDC and government recommendations. (Georgia has yet to mandate closings for businesses, though it did shut down schools.)

The grocery stores remain open, but honestly that’s an anxiety-inducing thought, and I am at least stocked with essentials to last a bit.

The numbers show how important it is to keep social distancing and take it seriously. They also show this needs to be our way of life for an extended period of time, if we want a realistic shot at keeping the number of cases manageable.