Who knew how hard it would be to stay inside for two weeks? At first, it seemed like a bit of an adventure; an excuse, even, not to do things we didn’t want to do, but the novelty wore off quickly.
The week had its ups and downs, as I am sure will be the case for the next week and the weeks and perhaps months to come. Here are a few reflections from week one of social isolation.
There are many things for which I am grateful right now.
We have lots of almost everything from toilet paper to booze to marijuana to food. Late last year, I wrote about our decision to get rid of one refrigerator and one freezer as a small part of our commitment to addressing the climate crisis. That has left us with two freezers; both chock a block with organic meat from my son’s farm, frozen berries and vegetables from last summer’s garden and pre-made meals, as well as a large refrigerator that is well stocked.
We have children and friends who are only too happy (or at least so they say) to run errands for us; not just for essentials, but for a tub of Heavenly Hash when my partner had a strong yen for ice cream the other evening and for a bag of chips when I thought I could not possibly live without it.
Our already modest RRSP may be disappearing before our eyes, but we have enough money for now.
I think I am especially grateful for my work. I have worked 10 to 12 hour days all week. It feels like work that matters, whether it is writing articles or talking to reporters about the impact of COVID-19 on women fleeing abuse, working with the Luke’s Place staff team to develop resources for our frontline workers and others across the province so they can better support women who no longer have ready access to the family court system or talking to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court to strategize ways to ensure women continue to have access to justice. That work keeps my brain from wandering into a slough of despond about where, when and how this crisis is going to end, and I am glad for that.
I am a very social person. My partner and I began our 14 days of social isolation after having already been away from family, friends and, for me, work colleagues for six weeks.
Early on, I realized that I would have to find ways to connect with people that did not breach our quarantine if I were to keep my spirits up. None of them replace face to face contact, touching a child’s or friend’s hand or arm, but they are better than nothing.
We have visited through our sunroom glass door and with neighbours who hover at the end of our driveway. I text and email more than ever.
While I can email with my dad and his wife, in lieu of in-person visits with them in their retirement home, it is not so easy to figure out how to stay in touch with my mother, who has dementia. On a waiting list for a long-term care facility, she remains in a retirement home where no visits are permitted, no doubt confused by her new circumstance of not seeing any of us. We try to call her, but she often doesn’t remember how to answer the phone. So, we write cards and letters and hope she opens them.
Partway through the week, it occurred to me that if we could use technology for work meetings there was no reason we couldn’t use it for social gatherings, too. My work colleagues and I had a virtual cocktail party (VCP) on Zoom towards the end of the work week. Everyone brought their own drink. Some of us brought a snack. We spent an hour laughing, telling stories we had not shared with one another before and, most importantly, not talking about work. It was a great way to end what had been a day of intense work.
Since then, I have had two more VCPs, each equally fun and restorative.
We tried watching pandemic movies, but they were a bit too close to reality. After swearing off Nashville a few months ago, I have resumed my addiction. I cook and bake. I watch animal videos. I try (and fail) to remove the chipped and cracked gel on my fingernails. I take my temperature every morning. I look at the dust bunnies under the bed and do nothing about them.
As we enter week two, I fully realize, as I did not a week ago, that come the end of our 14 days of isolation, we won’t be walking out our front door to a fully operating community around us. We will still be social distancing, restaurants and movie theatres will remain closed, the courts and borders will not have magically opened. Many, many people will be far worse off than we will be.
However, as I write this, the sun is shining, my cat is purring on my lap and almost all of our Blueberry Pie marijuana seeds have sprouted, so I am choosing to feel hopeful.