April 14, 2020

Quarantine Angst?

The last time I "went out," so to speak, was a month ago—on Saturday, March 14. I decided to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a little early, in case I wasn't able to the following Tuesday, on the proper date. (Turns out I was right.)

I'd gone out the night before to Tom Bergin's for the same reason.

And out to Lono the night before that because it felt like the last chance I might ever have to go out for tiki again.

By then, events had already started to be canceled. Some businesses had started closing—like the gym where I've been seeing a personal trainer every two weeks for over a year—but miraculously bars and restaurants were still open.

My friends were telling me to stay home. But I wasn't ready yet.

I wasn't sure how I'd respond to being told to "shelter in place"—or, in the case of Los Angeles, that I'd be "safer at home."

After all, I'd been told to—forced to—stay at home for the first 17 years of my life. And I've spent the 27+ years that followed rebelling against that order. 

People who know me would think I'd have a very hard time not going out all the time.

But what's occurred to me in this time of solitary reflection is that I was really made for this. Those first 17 years trained me how to be alone—and how to entertain myself. I'm never so bored that I'm looking for something to do. There's always too much to do. 

So this has been kind of a welcome break for me. I'm not constantly running from here to there. I have time to think and time to feel.

After all, I've been living my life as though someone's going to take it all away from me. I've crammed in as much as I possibly could whenever the opportunity presented itself. 

And while I truly am prone to cabin fever, it's really only when I think I'm missing out on an experience that other people will have or are having. 

If the whole world is shut down, there's nothing to miss. Sure, there's been a litany of cancelations—but most of those events will get rescheduled, eventually. 

Before it all set in, I couldn't comprehend that I'd be OK with any of this. But it turns out that I am.  

So I've been home, writing and organizing photos, working my dayjob as well as my freelance gigs. On paper, it appears to be business as usual.

Things are, of course, different. My usual baseline of existential dread and anxiety has been heightened. Some night terrors have returned. Some nights, it feels as though my heart will pound out of my chest.

But if I've got to be housebound, it might as well be in my charming 1929 Art Deco apartment, with my handsome 6-year-old rescue cat

I've managed to actually lose a little bit of weight—or, at least, maintain it—without dieting or suffering through painful workouts.

I'm lonely, but actually less so than I was before. I'm not having empty conversations with anyone. I'm either connecting with beloved friends or expressing my gratitude to the staff at Bristol Farms and Jersey Mike's who are literally risking their lives so I can still eat. 

Sometimes I worry that I'm getting a little too comfortable with the homebody life. 

This is what I've spent so long cultivating a backlash of.

But honestly, I've done so much—both in life and here in Southern California—that I'm still basking in the glow of those past experiences. Sometimes the new ones eclipse the ones I've just had—so it's nice to relish in them for a little while longer than I normally do.

Although I've been writing during these last four weeks, I've been reticent to write about life in "quarantine"—a word that gets overused in this context.

Very few of us are actually quarantined. We can still get in our cars and drive. Go get donuts on a Saturday. Fill our tanks with gas. Wander the aisles of Target (even if we can't try any of the clothes on just yet).

There's no curfew. No roadblocks or checkpoints. No having to prove that whichever errand you're running is "essential."

Some people, though, truly are suffering. And I haven't wanted to be flippant about that. The current pandemic hasn't "hit home" for me in the way it has for others. But that doesn't make it any less scary.

Here in California, there's a very strong sense of impending doom. But there's a certain familiarity in that—to me, anyway, after having spent the last 9 years trying to prepare myself mentally for an earthquake. 

I've always known "The Big One" was coming. I just didn't think it would be a virus. 

So, a month after initially being "locked down"—which, again, is a huge exaggeration—we've got at least another month to go. 

Who knows when things will return to "normal"?

But maybe I'm OK with whatever changes come. At least, more OK than I ever thought I'd be. 

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1 comment:

  1. Very well said.

    I've been at home since March 12th. I'm not alone. My husband is here, and we both work from home anyway, so not that much has changed. But there's that doom feeling you mentioned. Sometimes I have a nightmare, but I don't have to face it alone. John is here, and when I wake in the night I feel safe. I'm sorry you have to be alone for the scary parts.

    At least two good friends will probably lose their businesses. Others have lost their jobs. Others have lost loved ones. I can't complain. I don't have these problems. I'm more like you—there's always too much to do.

    Thanks for sharing.