Bars shall not a prison make: Day 5 self-isolation
I notice that as these days continue, alone as I am in the basement, I am kind of shrinking into myself. I am not what you would call a needy person – I work from home; am happy with my own company; love being with my family; am cheerful and sociable when I get the chance – but there is no doubt that I am coming up short in terms of adjusting to this current self-isolation. The French term for this – as a translator I am interested in stuff like this – is much more accurate and describes much more closely how I feel: confinement. There really is a punitive sense to the word, one that doesn’t exist in the English. We say ‘self’-isolation, it is our choice. Theirs is more imposed, there is less choice.
God knows why I have not adapted to this well. It is not as if my life in Calahonda were a great string of parties. I got up, wrote, had some food, wrote or read some more, went for a walk, went into a café in which I sat apart from everyone and answered emails and posted my blip. For a big thrill, I went to the supermarket. There are, of course, differences – I was outside – but in terms of socializing, it was negligible. And yet here I am at 7.22 p.m. on day 5, and I am in a rut. I am stiff and sore, struggle getting up the stairs to the landing where my daily social intercourse takes place, have no desire to set foot outside (a walk by myself would be allowed, I think, in terms of the isolation protocol – I would not be near anyone or be stopping to talk to anyone), have basically written nothing of the novel since my return. It is, I suppose it has to be said, a funk.
I suppose I am not alone in this. Upstairs, Mrs. Ottawacker is keeping the house running, doing telework, making sure Ottawacker Jr. is entertained and has things to do while she is working (and no TV since I have been back), is cooking meals, has made brief foraging sorties to get food… she can manage it, why can’t I? Is it simply the shock of a forced return? Or is there something deeper and more psychologically entrenched. God knows. But I had better snap out of it soon…
Thank God for my time with the two of them – and especially Ottawacker Jr.’s persistence with Lord of the Rings. It’s a chapter a day at the moment, no holding back. Our characters have just crossed the Brandywine River being pursued by a dark rider – and he sits there, eyes wide open, staring at me as I read and put on Somerset accents for Farmer Maggot and his clan.
“More,” he says, when I come to a natural stop. “Don’t stop now.”
It is therapeutic for me and good for him – but there is only so much Tolkien either of us can take per day – and even if his stamina is better than mine, mine is the one that counts when it comes to telling the story.
We have both been under the weather today – I had to go and lie down in the afternoon, feeling tired and incapable of functioning. He has been the same this evening. No temperature, but complaining of a headache of and not wanting to eat. It is not surprising, I suppose, we are all suffering a bit from cabin fever. Mrs. Ottawacker carries on though, implacably and irrepressibly.
Still no sign of the LCBO delivery. OK, I can accept a couple of days lateness, but FFS, I am almost running out of Ricard. How do you expect me to survive without an apéritif in the evening? That would be the final straw.
It was my godson’s 18th birthday today, and being in confinement, he had no big celebration, and no godfather over to remind him of the time I bounced him up and down on my knee after he had eaten spaghetti Bolognese until he threw up over his mother. I had to remind him of it by phone, instead – the story passed across the phone line to the other side of Ottawa. He’s 18. I can remember being asked to be his godfather in the Arrow and the Loon, 5.30 p.m., on a Tuesday night. He has turned out to be a wonderful man – a talented soccer player, a smart cookie and a kind and gentle human being. His parents have a lot to be proud of. He has a lot to be proud of himself. The extra photo is of him in 2005, aged 3 (and a half, as he would have said at the time).
These, and other celebrations, are just on hold, I tell myself, just temporarily moored.. Like the ferry across the Brandywine River.