Here we are. The day I started my “Quarantine” posts, I knew one day there would be a 365 post. I couldn’t imagine what I would be writing about. On Friday, March 13, 2020, when everything was shutting down I got up for work – my two children still asleep in their beds – with a knot of anxiety in my chest. It would be another two weeks before we started universal masking at work. Even that is hard to imagine now.
Ten days in – the grocery shelves were empty and I had my first wave of panic. V was away for a week and when she came home, we hugged and hugged until she got sick of it and disappeared into her room. The battle with O over social distancing with friends [seemed to have] tapered off. The toilet paper memes started. We were filling our heads with fantasies over all the fun stuff we’d do to pass the time until quarantine was over. The first threads of annoyance were beginning to tangle. I befriended a squirrel.
With the closing of what they called “non-essential” businesses, I noted, “I don’t think any of us will get out of this without really bad hair, clothes that no longer fit, and liver disease.” Sabra’s grooming was cancelled. Over 19,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
Two weeks in – I’m known as The Common Denominator. The only one in our two households working outside the home. In an effort to protect my “high-risk-category” girl, she was staying with her dad for a while. Meanwhile, my college-age son was slowly unraveling and my workplace was calling everything “fluid,” and we’re getting work-from-home access as our schedules are about to change dramatically.
At 18 days, there’s this new exciting thing called Zoom meetings, which, it turns out, aren’t just for work. Todd and I participated in a handful with friends for cocktail hour and a Passover dinner with five separate households. My hold on emotional stability hit a wall, we got a vintage pinball machine, and I started recording stats – like 85 t-shirts (with Todd).
At work we cancelled all well-child visits except those due for vaccines. Every other incoming call was a panicked parent full of coronavirus questions. The president promised “everything is under control” and we’ll be back to normal in two weeks. Meanwhile, the media reports are apocalyptic: hospitals desperately in need of PPE and ventilators, people dying in the ER waiting for care, refrigerator trucks for bodies parked outside.
By day 22, universal masking at work and we use the same mask for the week. I wondered if I’d ever get used to breathing through a mask 12 hours a day. Our schedules went from two teams splitting the week to alternating weeks. Got a T-Rex costume and ran around the neighborhood. Concerned about morale and wondered when it’s going to be safe for V to come home. Tried to imagine life returning to the way it was, and I couldn’t. How will we ever get there? I saw V briefly to drop off books and supplies she needed. I hugged her and we both cried. My heart is breaking. 297,575 cases in the U.S.
One month in, still no toilet paper (or any other paper goods for that matter) and the grocery stores implemented one-way aisles, a boon for rule-breakers and half-masked people (read: under the nose). I dragged my sewing machine out and started making my own masks.
Missing V and watching O losing his shit and struggling with this terrible position I’m in with absolutely no easy answers. In my journal I wrote, “I miss her. I miss touching her forehead and smoothing her hair while she sleeps. I miss hugging her…this deepest, primal love for her is what makes me okay with her being where she is. She is safe, she is protected, she is loved.” The unease of being separated from both of my kids is at war with the necessity of protecting us all.
Forty days in, we all contemplated cutting our own hair, Todd took measurements for the bar we were building in the basement, and there’s still no TP, flour, sugar, or meat in the grocery store. I’ve begun to worry about our dwindling supply of TP.
Six days later, I broke. I started to cry, and I didn’t stop. For hours. Maybe even days. I wrote: “I miss my daughter. I miss my mother. I miss my dad. I miss going to work without a mask on … having get-togethers with friends. I miss everything I can’t do today… soon, I’m going to be missing my son again. I’m sad about all the people out there who are protesting their “right” to do as they please. I’m sad that a friend lost a relative last week. I’m sad that my friends with elderly parents can’t visit them. I’m sad for all those who’ve lost someone who had to die alone in a hospital. I’m sad that people are scared and unemployed. I’m sad that the numbers around us are growing, all while the media keeps giving that incompetent canker blossom air time to suggest new and dangerous possibilities for curing a disease no one has ever seen before. And I’m angry. So angry I cry.”
Day 56 – V was home, sleeping in her bed and I’m hearing the comforting sound of her moving softly through the house, and running on the treadmill. It was the most peaceful week I had in a long time. I also got to see my mom for the first time and bawled on her shoulder.
Day 80. Angry. So very angry. Another black man died under the knee of a white police officer, on my birthday, and it sparked worldwide outrage and protests all over the nation. Angry that there’s no end in sight to the race issue, the equality issue, the White Supremacy problem, and this stupid fucking pandemic our government is failing epically to contain. 1, 747, 087 cases in the U.S. and 102,836 dead.
At 100 days in, we celebrated our anniversary and were otherwise unproductive on projects – well, mostly me. The scrapbooking I planned to do, the renovations, creative stuff, writing 1000 words a day – none of it got done. Well, I did start the laundry room but it’s not even close to done.
By early August we brought two more dogs into the house. By 163, Todd made some furniture – a bookcase for me! – and work continued to be steady, despite the looming threat of mandatory furloughs. The struggle for household supplies included Windex, sanitizing wipes, paper towels, and dish soap. TP returned but you gotta move quick.
Day 180. My son has changed colleges and no longer lives in a dorm, or in my home. It wasn’t a smooth transition by any means, and it had all the hallmarks of ugliness I once knew only from his father. Apathetic about most everything, sad, and angry at how COVID has changed all our lives – and fearful the damage is long-term, even permanent. Blindsided by another legal battle.
Day 221. As the weather turned cooler, I had a couple of friends over by the fire pit with cocktails. Ted and Tony joined us one night too. It was much-needed human interaction with “other” faces. I was doing some more creative writing, less blogging. We dropped our presidential election ballots in the box at the high school on a gorgeous, breezy October day. I lost 6lbs and felt energized and strong. Meeting regularly with a counselor to keep my mind and goals clear. Work schedule returned to normal and the teams have dispersed and converged.
At 250 days, I again hit a wall on a slow, downward spiral. The cases in my immediate area were increasing exponentially and again, nearly every call at work is COVID-related. I started a different creative writing project, but it’s sometimes too close and too emotional for me to focus on. I wasn’t in a “great” place and entertained very dark thoughts, and had some really bad days. I told no one. 10,906,725 U.S. cases, 245,614 dead.
Meanwhile, Todd bought a ’68 Mustang to restore and stopped being so bored and wandering aimlessly around the house during the only 48 hours he WASN’T working in his office downstairs. There were promises, so many promises, that we’ll get through this and there’s going to be a viable vaccine soon, while Trump is throwing tantrums every day over the “stolen election” and insists he won by a landslide.
The holidays were so uneventful as to be just another day in quarantine. We had a court date set for March and my son was listed as a witness for the other side. There was an “insurrection” and we all watched in horror as Americans stormed the Capitol building and threatened our lawmakers’ lives. We all held our breath as Joe Biden was inaugurated as President, with more than 20,000 troops and National Guardsmen surrounding D.C. in an unprecedented day for American history.
Two COVID-19 vaccines were approved for immunizing select populations, beginning with healthcare workers and the elderly in nursing homes. New variations of COVID emerged and showed up in the U.S., raising new fears and concerns. On February 28, 2021, there are 28,555,072 U.S. cases, 511,999 dead.
Coming up…. Q-Day 365 – Where We Are Now.