Read: Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
It’s not just a new day; it’s the day.
I wake up. My eyes are closed. I’m lying on my back and I wonder how I wound up that way? I find it strange that we move around so much without even knowing it.
I open my eyes, look at the ceiling, and take a deep breath. I go through the usual morning routine—you know—bathroom stuff, feed Ovie (my cat), make some tea, and sit down on my couch.
I live alone. I pick up my phone, and open my calendar to cross yesterday off. Back in the day, I would watch my father cross days off and exclaim with enthusiasm, “A new day!” I never did, however, pick up his list-writing habit. I suppose picking up one habit was enough.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and think to myself, a new day. But it’s not just a new day; it’s the day.
I get myself dressed and ready to go, and call for a Lyft. My driver arrives and asks me if I’m healthy. I look at him and emphatically say, “Yes! Absolutely!”
I’ve already had the coronavirus, I tell him. This is the first time I’ve been out of my apartment in 30 days.
You see, I live on the second floor and my downstairs neighbor is pregnant. I didn’t want to take any chance of infecting her or anyone else in our little quad group of apartments, so I have literally not been outside, nor had my feet on the earth, for a long while.
He looks at me and says, “Well then, let’s go!”
He’s a chatty driver. From Ethiopia. And when I tell him that I’ve been there, he lights up like a Christmas tree. He puts a smile on my face—the first human being that I’ve been in contact with in a month.
We arrive and I thank him, tell him to stay healthy, and close the door. From the curb, I look at my office as I call it and go inside. It smells exactly as I remember, a mixture of lemon, lavender, sandalwood, and a few other wonderful scents. I inhale, exhale, and I immediately feel at home. Man, I’ve missed this place.
Sitting at my desk, looking out the bay window, I take a deep breath and take it all in, it feels good to be home. I mean it’s been my home away from home for 18 years, which still, to this day, I can’t believe. It’s so quiet. Even the birds seem quiet. Normally, they are chirping all around, sitting on my wind chime, making it sing on windless days. Where are they? Their bird feeder is empty! I fill it back up, and wait for their arrival.
Where to start? I’m not exactly sure. It all just feels so odd and surreal. What did I do?
Originally my quarantine was supposed to last two weeks, but they changed the guidelines as to when it’s safe to go outside in order to not infect anyone. For 30 days, friends dropped food at my door, picked up my trash to take it to the dumpster—that sort of thing.
Once I started to feel like a human being again, I did what most people seemed to be doing: news, Instagram, Netflix, email, Facebook—wash hands, rinse, and repeat.
Once I reached my maximum saturation point, I started doing other things around my apartment. My meditation practice increased. I came to appreciate the past years of silent retreats that I had been on—most for a week, but one for 14 days. They truly helped me to find some balance in these choppy waters.
But most importantly, I diligently crossed each day off of my calendar each morning when I woke up.
I won’t go into the details of what it feels like to have the Coronavirus. You’ve heard all of that in the news. Let’s just say, it’s hell times whatever multiplier you want to use.
I won’t go into what it feels like to battle this virus alone and at home because you are not quite sick enough to need hospital care.
I won’t go into the fact that my savings have been depleted the last few months with decreasing business, or that I am now in dire straits. That’s been in the news too—mom-and-pop businesses being pretty much screwed.
I won’t go into all that because, honestly? That’s not my point.
What I will talk about is this moment—right here, right now—because that’s what I’m experiencing, and I want to savor it.
It’s mid-morning, and the world is starting to wake up. Fewer cars on the road. Fewer people out and about. But, there is life. I was kinda worried about that.
I have to say that I feel a little guilty. I mean, most people are still quarantined, but I made it through and it’s safe for me and for others to be out here.
I’m out here.
I sit at my desk, and watch the world around me. Slowly, I begin to hear various bird calls and chirping. The birds have found their breakfast. They’re no longer silent.
Yesterday’s gone, and their presence reminds me of the promise of a new day for all of us.