“How are you holding up?” That’s what I ask when I talk to somebody I haven’t heard from in a while. “How are doing?” That’s what I ask after we’ve traded pleasantries and Omigods and Can you believe it’s been a year? The emphasis, I hope, conveys that I really want to know or that maybe I already do know because I’m going through the same thing. When we sign off: “Hope you’re hanging in there.”
People ask me how I’m doing and I have to convince myself they actually want to know. I tell them about how my daughter’s been in virtual school for so long but I’m lucky to have a stay-at-home partner who can supervise e-learning. I tell them I’m lucky I can work from home, that I’m lucky to have had work to do, but that I’m looking for more. I might tell them I’ve been teaching myself to cook and hiking with my daughter and painting with watercolors. I might even tell them about this blog.
It only takes a few minutes of talking for a person to have a general idea of the structure of my days. It only takes a few posts to take in my emotional landscape. What you still don’t know is what late stage quarantine actually looks like. Or maybe you know because you’re going through the same thing.
Late stage quarantine means I’ve quit brushing my hair and putting on makeup for Zoom/Teams meetings. I’m still wearing clothes, but that’s about it.
Late stage quarantine means busting out the lap desk to my “work station” (futon and fleece blanket nest) even more comfortable. I’m still sitting upright, but only barely.
Late stage quarantine means stripping down to my underwear to exercise instead of using ten minutes to change into workout clothes and adding to the laundry pile. I’m still moving my body, but I’m doing less every day.
Late stage quarantine means I don’t shower until I can smell myself. I’m still washing my hands until the skin sloughs off, but everything else is greasy.
Late stage quarantine means giving up on high brow TV and just binge watching House Hunters. Real Housewives is up next. I’m taking time to “relax” at night, but indulging my worst impulses at the same time.
Late stage quarantine means my kid messes with her parents by getting real close to our faces and telling us that it looks like we have pinkeye. I have a hilarious kid, but I might gouge out my own eyes.
Late stage quarantine means I’m watching my friends and family get vaccinated and venture out into the world. I’m so relieved and so happy for them, but I’m burning with envy. When am I going to get mine?
I used to be presentable. I used to be good. I used to always be going up.
Late stage quarantine means devolution in every sense of the word.