As of today, it’s been a full month since I last set foot in the office. I went home Friday night, did a zillion errands Saturday, went for a photowalk on Sunday, and got slammed by the flu Sunday night.
By the time I was over the flu, Los Angeles and California were shutting down as much as possible to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
I’ve been lucky. I have a job that I can do remotely, health insurance and sick leave, and an employer who prepared for shifting the entire company from an office to remote work. We’re all in reasonably good health so far. We’re living in an area that hasn’t been hit hard (yet), and it’s still possible to at least get outside for a walk in the neighborhood.
But it’s still wearing.
Balancing staying informed with not obsessing over the news (because so much of it is bad). Worrying about other people you know. About whether resources will be there for them (or for you) if and when it hits. Trying to home-school on short notice. Trying to help a kid with his own anxieties when you’re barely managing your own. All the extra hand-washing and disinfecting. Wondering which staples you will and won’t be able to restock. How risky is that grocery trip? Spending your time cooped up with a few people, then going out and finding that your social anxiety has latched onto the social distancing guidelines and is screaming “I told you you needed to stay away from people!” whenever you walk past someone, even with the recommended 6-foot distance between you.
And of course the ever-present fear that the next cough, the next weird symptom, will signal the first of us to catch the disease. And from there, whether we’ll be able to get tested or not. Whether each of us will get a “mild” case or one requiring a hospital stay, or a ventillator. Whether there will be any hospital beds or ventillators available if we do need them.
And it’s almost certainly going to be all of us, because we just don’t have the space to isolate one of us at home. My remote work setup is in the living room, plugged into my own PC’s monitor, because that’s where I have room for it. We don’t have a spare room to isolate just one of us for two weeks.
It’s a constant hum of anxiety. I wouldn’t even call it background noise, it’s more like a dissonant musical score that breaks into the foreground for maximum discomfort. And I know it’s going to be like this for months, unless we do catch covid-19 early on. Which I don’t want to happen, but if we all recover, it’ll be such a relief to be able to relax all the precautions for however long immunity lasts.
I posted a while back that I think a lot about Sam’s speech in Lord of the Rings about how in the dark parts of the middle of the stories that matter, the people in those stories are the ones who choose to keep going, because there’s something good at the other end worth persevering for. But I saw someone post another reference the other day, to Pippin talking about how he doesn’t want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one that he knows is coming, but can’t stop, is almost worse.