I’m not going to lie: I’m making peace with this quarantine.
Yes, it’s hurting (well, destroying) many businesses. People are getting laid off. Many can’t make their rent or pay their mortgages. Doctors and nurses are risking their lives every day to treat the infected while most of us stay home, hiding behind our four walls, aside from family walks or carefully-orchestrated trips to the grocery store.
But as always, there is a silver lining. In the days (months? years?) leading up to this, we’ve been busy. Too busy. Stupid busy. School drop off and pickups. Cheer. Homework. Gymnastics. Karate. Dance team. Rock climbing. Horseback riding. Workouts. Business trips. Lady lunches. Family vacations. Writing deadlines. Yoga. (Why is it stressful to get to yoga?)
Could I volunteer for a committee? Of course! Could I guest-write an article? Why not? Fun, but too busy. The pressure was mounting and it wasn’t stopping. How much could we fit into a day? If there was a moment of time, it was not to be spared. It couldn’t be squandered. We had to fill it with activity, with purpose, with a specific outcome in mind. There was a meeting for it, there was an email for it, there was a Google calendar alert for it. The train was going, it was gaining speed, and it was too hard to get off.
If I had a moment of peace, I was restless. If I had a little break, I couldn’t enjoy it. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I felt increasingly anxious. Why?
I yearned for boredom. I yearned for space. I yearned to wake up at 10am on a summer day when I was eleven years old, and feel the stretch of the day before me, the vast nothingness of it, the luxury of boredom, the delicious idleness, an invitation for creativity. A giant, lazy long yawn of an afternoon. The time to build something that had no bearing on the future. To read something for pure enjoyment.
But those are a child’s pleasures, no? Not for an adult, a grown-up like me, raising two feisty girls, supporting a busy husband at home, doing housework, paying bills, organizing and planning our lives (within an inch of our lives), and also making time to write and share and use my voice in an attempt to make my mark on the world with my words…when is there time for rest?
When I was a kid in elementary school, school seemed easy. It was also exceedingly boring. I would doodle away during classes, lost in my own world, drawing, writing stories, penning long notes to my friends in four-colored pens, folding them in intricate patterns, doing anything but paying attention to the lesson (unless it was art, or learning about tornadoes, or what makes thunder, or animals.)
It was all so mundane I just couldn’t stand it. I would “fake” being sick so I could stay home from school, build a fort in the living room with multi-colored blankets, a token roll of toilet paper for fake nose-blowing, (we never seemed to stock Kleenex, but there was always an abundance of toilet paper. Oh, the irony!) I would fill the fort with books, stuffed animals, lure in a few of our pet cats and maybe our giant Airedale Terrier if the fort was big enough, and savor the long moments of the day when all my classmates were at school, and I was lost in another world, buried in books and stories.
Those “sick” days were some of my happiest memories! When my classmates got home, they would stop by my bedroom window, tell me about the day, what I missed, and I would retreat back into my room, grateful that I faked out my parents, undaunted by the makeup work I’d have the next day.
I feel like, in some ways, for me at least, this quarantine is one big sick day. It’s a chance to pause. To take stock of what we have. To enjoy guilty pleasures. To stop the driving, the action, the buying, the entertaining, the things. (Do we need all the things?) To shore up at home, to savor the aloneness, to ease into the simple-ness of it all.
Maybe when this is all over, we will rethink being in a hurry. What is ours and what we are owed. (The bays? The beaches? The skies? The forests? Are they ours for the taking?)
What are we doing in all this bustling activity? What are we doing that is so important? That really matters?
Maybe when this is all over, we will emerge a little gentler, a little kinder, a little more thoughtful. Maybe we will rethink all the things that we needed so badly. Maybe nature will have healed and taken over a bit (dolphins in the Venetian channels? A smog-free L.A.?)
In the meantime, we can take pleasure in the beautiful emptiness of this strange, new world. We can take care of our loved ones to the best of our abilities. We can spread joy when we can. We can laugh. And we can dance.
If you’d like to send us your “Quarantined in Coronado” story, email email@example.com. It can be humorous or serious, highlighting the caring side, the hard situations or the lighter situations. What’s your experience? Send a photo too!