By Anne T. Donahue
Now wrapping up our fifth week of quarantine and it’s safe to say that our mindsets have shifted permanently and we’re no longer the people we used to be. I think of the February and early March versions of myself and miss the naivety of thinking that “quarantine” meant “hanging out at best friends’ houses, I bet” (thank goodness that never happened) and that “how bad can it be?” was my code for “I’m envisioning myself doing nothing but eating snacks for two weeks like some extended March break.” The denial was powerful and it was necessary. Especially since knowing the scope of what was coming would likely have led to me shutting down on day one and crying until I opened my computer to type today.
The last little while has been so hard, and the foreseeable future will likely prove harder. Outside of the sheer magnitude of what’s happening (on all fronts) is the realization that this year may be defined very much by spending time alone or with only your immediate household. And that’s the best case scenario. If you and I are lucky (so incredibly, beautifully lucky) our biggest complaint will be that we miss our pals and want to go out to socialize. Which is a heavy realization unto itself: at our most fortunate, we will still feel very, very sad. So allow me to try and alleviate it for maybe 30 seconds. And celebrate the questions we currently don’t have to worry about asking because frankly, who needs to worry about what we do not need to?
“Is so-and-so mad at me?”
Imagine anyone being mad at you right now. Imagine that amidst what we’re going through, a person has decided to be mad about something stupid, I bet. Imagine you being mad at a friend right now. Imagine a friend being mad at you. For no real reason! Don’t they look foolish? Isn’t it weird that they’re picking a fight about something like a Zoom call or missed Facetime? Isn’t it bananas that you’re salty about a missed text? Imagine prioritizing nonsense? Not today! Or tomorrow! Or for a long time, probably!
Which, of course, isn’t to say you’re not allowed to feel angry. I’m angry whenever I see people obviously not respecting the rules of quarantine. I’m annoyed whenever I hear some garbage argument about something ridiculous. But a person you know and love? Unless they’re spewing hateful rhetoric, I assume only that, like me, they’re spiraling a little bit. Some of us just spiral differently, so for heaven’s sake: know that so-and-so isn’t mad at you.
“What am I going to wear today?”
What a great question that can absolutely go to hell for a while. Last night, I went to bed telling myself I would step out of my jogging pants and into a pair of jeans and some reasonably work-appropriate top. And then this morning I woke up and thought, “Oh, I would absolutely rather perish” and am wearing jogging pants I wore yesterday and a sweatshirt I wore the day before. The good news? They match! The bad? There is no bad news. I am very comfortable.
“Where is the cat/dog?”
When I come home and can’t find my cat right away, I panic just a little and prepare myself to learn that he’s run away or chosen to die until I find him under the blankets in my room (where he will look up at me in a quiet rage that assures me that he will one day be responsible for my death). But now? Now, I know where he is constantly. Our pets are exactly where you left them all the time, unless they’ve somehow evolved into having opposable thumbs and have stolen our car keys and have left the house hours ago. “Where’s the baby?” is one of my favorite questions to ask my cat, usually when he’s right next to me because he has nothing else to do and wants me desperately to leave. I’m about to ask it now, even. Because he still doesn’t have any thumbs.
“What should I watch tonight?”
I will make this easy for you: Vanderpump Rules. I’m on season six, I can’t believe these people are all older than me and still acting this way, and I do not want a single one of them to change because they’re my children now. Also: it’s a surprisingly effective balm on my sad brain, which cannot handle any more true crime or crime dramas or anything even remotely upsetting.
Not that Jax Taylor isn’t upsetting, but he’s upsetting in a different way.
“Should I eat that?”
I understand that there’s been an emphasis on “healthy eating” or “clean eating” or “not eating two chocolate chip cookies with a Diet Pepsi for breakfast, Anne,” but to that I say: no. Guess what! We’re in quarantine. Our lives are currently very small. Our sources of joy? Limited. And while we should always have been eating what makes us happy, many extenuating circumstances have prevented us from doing as such. So, let’s be perfectly clear: when you wonder if that thing you want to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack is appropriate or “okay,” you tell that voice to absolutely go fuck itself because bread dipped in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar is a delicacy for any meal, but especially “in between other meals.”
“What day is it?”
There are no days. Only Zulu.
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