On March 1, the state of North Carolina had its first confirmed case of COVID-19. On March 5, I got on a plane to fly to San Antonio. That sounds absolutely insane to say now, but that just shows how quickly everything changed. The virus was concerning, but not necessarily life-altering.
I arrived back from San Antonio on the 7th (it was a very short trip). The next week started basically as normal, except for the amount of time at work spent talking about the virus or tracking the news. By the end of the week, we knew things were looking grim. My whole office had been asked to work from home. My wife, a schoolteacher, had been told to work from home for two weeks, with very little plan.
Over the course of a week, life changed from “eh, travel seems like a reasonable idea” to “staying at home 24/7”.
On March 23, the governor by executive fiat closed all schools through May 15. In other words, we weren’t one week into a two-week isolation period, we were one week into a two-month isolation period. The reality started to settle in: this was a marathon, not a sprint.
There’s a scene at the very start of the original Die Hard where Bruce Willis wears a gun on a plane, then when he gets off at LAX and immediately lights up a cigarette. This opening scene has since become one of the most bizarre scenes of the whole movie. For a while it will probably be a similar experience seeing people shake hands or hug in public. “Social distancing” is definitely the current buzzword.
So here we are, two weeks in, with six weeks (or more!) left to go.
It’s…not bad. I video call with a lot of my friends, so I don’t feel especially lonely. I think it might be challenging to be single and living alone during this time, but my wife and I get along well (we’re currently in the same room hanging out as I type this) and somehow she hasn’t gotten sick of me yet. The kitties provide enough drama and excitement to keep our lives from being dull, and we’re both quite good at finding things to do on our own so we’re far from being bored.
I think what surprises me the most is how little I’m getting done. I haven’t been completely unproductive, of course (this blog is testament to that), but I also haven’t accomplished as much as I might have thought over these two weeks (some of it is just the necessity of cooking at home every night; there’s a big difference between cooking at home 3 – 4 nights a week and cooking at home 7 nights a week, it turns out).
I’m OK with that though, because the real benefit has been more time to just slow down. To putter around. To exist in the moment without being entertained or occupied. To take ownership of my own mental state. If I sound like a retiree, well, I ain’t getting any younger but I’m not yet ready to put socks on under my sandals and take up shuffleboarding. I’m just letting a global emergency teach me something about living.
I’ll leave the life lessons to hindsight. I just wanted to take some time in the midst of posting stories, poems, and other ramblings to update the Internet on my actual life, right now.