Maybe one of the reasons I never really made it as a writer is because I tend to lose my footing in the face of adversity so easily.
Hell, I’d lose my footing at a third season premiere of “Succession,” but to be fair that show is fucking awesome.
It just seems like the kind of writers I admire are the ones who are stalwart. Unshakable, and able to tame their agitated hearts long enough to elucidate prolifically on the dilemma of the time.
I tend to live in sweatpants and stress-eat cheese.
Which is why, outside of work, and a few recreational writing projects, I haven’t been chronicling my quarantine. I haven’t been able to capture the nuance of navigating one moment to the next, from the compressed space of coronavirus anxiety while Trump yammers incoherently at the podium during a press briefing, to the plateau of yawn-inducing normalcy when I’m just, like, chopping vegetables or sighing loudly.
Or thinking about how exciting it will be to masturbate in bed later.
Which begs the question: am I using my quarantine wisely?
Just because we’re #inittogether doesn’t mean the broad open hand bitch slap of social media envy doesn’t still pervade all our ego-fueled pursuits for validation as we numbly scroll through the Instagram feed: husband-and-wife TikTok dance offs, impromptu Zoom symphony recitals, YouTube stunt fights choreographed for social distancing.
I haven’t done any of that shit. I haven’t done anything constructive. I mean, I made a pizza. One night. It was pepperoni.
So, is the answer no? And, if the answer is no, how much quarantine will we have left because I’ve got to learn how to bake bread or macramé or start a Twitch account or something. Because I can’t survive a pandemic without a new skill.
And I’m a reactionary so just now I ordered a home deep fryer from Amazon so maybe I’ll get into that, which I know at first will read as misguided but just recognize that I know my limitations.
Or it won’t help, and with events on the horizon to look forward to starting to dwindle, the itch in my guts for mature, ambitious, and substantive use of this “free” time grows hotter and hotter.
I want. The fuck. Out.
“I want my life back!” I scream into my shower head (on more than one morning), and I know that the congregation answers emphatically, “So do we all, motherfucker!” And so I’m instantly reminded that #inittogether is not just a trend.
It’s not conceptual, it’s the formidable reality of the shift in our dynamic.
Sure, there’s Trump and the White House and Republicans — and America is a third-world capitalist-ruled wasteland — and then there are protestors like the Michigan Militia, who vibrantly march proud into hypocrisy, racist double-standards in flak vests, as they cry “freedom” over nail salons and public beaches.
Fuck all them.
But still, for the rest of us. We are — in some cases literally — all we’ve got.
A couple of weeks ago, I broke my current quarantine with my sister and niece to drive downstate to my parents’ unoccupied rental house in Arizona, for a “quarantine of one.” What a disgusting and opulent, luxurious thing to do, too, right? So you know, I exercised every conceivable precaution — masked up and gloved up, I drove the near six hours in a single shot without ever getting out of the car. I disinfected, and once in the house, didn’t leave for the whole two weeks.
Socialized at happy hour on FaveTime. Groceries arrived via Instacart. The booze I’d packed for the trip.
For all intents and purposes, I’ve qualified myself as an “introvert,” as socializing tends to be for me an exhausting chore. My time alone is precious, and so I thought, as I entered self-quarantine in mid March, ‘I am made for this.’
Although I still believe it, “alone time” and “time alone” are two vastly different concepts, and motivated by a fear to stay inside, to stay distant, to stay “isolated” as it were, the two weeks I spent without so much as a rubber-gloved wave to the cashier through a plexiglass partition at a grocery store checkout aisle really took its toll.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the time to start dropping the mic on how being alone for two weeks at my parents’ rental house in a gated community in a retirement town in Arizona “really took its toll,” so let’s just, like, consider that a draft of the point I’m trying to get across —
There are frontline workers and medical professionals and sufferers and survivors and friends and families of victims that deserve that space be held for them.
So I won’t get into it.
I won’t get into the dramatic parody that my suffering that experience descended into, as an active and ambitious personal schedule morphed into a alcohol-fueled self-absorbed self-immolation, until I was doddering around the empty model home with a bottle of margarita mix carrying on debates with myself arguing the merits and drawbacks of Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.
Or until finally, when I went full on Colonel Kurtz and shaved all the hair off my head and face, I recorded myself trying to summon “ghosts” I believed were howling at me from the microwave.
I won’t get into all that.
Because for those of us who have jobs, and paychecks, and work, but mostly friends and families and loved ones who are all still healthy and safe, we are so lucky. And I just want to say, about life, and all the people who populate mine — good and bad, present and past, loved and lost — I appreciate you.
I miss you.
But mostly, I appreciate you.