When these days of quarantine first pressed upon us, you, like me, may have delighted in the prospect of working from home for a few weeks and all the promise that accompanied such a change. Ah well, that was then. Now, three months on, I offer to you, dear reader, in a spirit of genuine solidarity, some cautionary tales of life in isolation.
The dependable silent friend
Over the past weeks I have enjoyed the growing friendship with my buddy Angus. We have been friends for a while although we didn’t get much of a chance to visit given my hectic travel schedule and Angus’s stationary life. He’s one of those friends I have discovered that is always there, just hanging around and generally willing to listen and demand very little from the friendship. We have been blessed even during this period of isolation with regular, daily interactions. That he’s a portrait on my wall does pose its challenges (he’s still angry that I framed him that one time). But a friend in need is a friend indeed, so they say.
Is cleanliness next to godliness?
I have made a point of supporting the local shops, including the Herb & Spice greengrocers down the road. They are fondly known locally as the Urban Heist thanks to their $7 ea. mangoes. They are perfect, Garden of Eden–reminiscent mangoes, but as I purchase the mango the fear of the growing necessity of a second mortgage enters my mind. Perhaps I shouldn’t buy the mango. I buy it. The next morning I think, “How many virusy hands cradled this perfection of mangoness?” Do I need to wash it longer? Differently? More soap, less soap? Cold water with soap? Warm water alone? Should I wash it after I peal it? After I wash the mango should I wash my hands again? Wait, my knuckle skin is cracked from the twenty weeks of hand washing? I’ll put some hand cream on so I don’t accidentally bleed on the mango. Done. The mango is washed. Shoot, now the hand cream is washed off. Did it wash off on the mango? Is a bit of hand cream edible?
I have a banana.
Walking and talking and walking and talking
I find I am walking and talking a lot these days. Walking to get out of the house. Talking to get work done with colleagues. Walking to get some fresh air. Talking to keep in touch with Mom and Dad. Walking just to see people about. Talking to God. Walking to work out the kinks in my back from sitting for hours on one of the chairs around my dining room table/desk. Talking to my pal the barber across the street as I wonder can I cash in on some friends-having-driveway-beers credit for a clandestine haircut next week. Walking to buy a mango. Talking with friends over Zoom/WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger/Google Hangout/FaceTime/Skype/Snype/Trype . . . sigh . . .
Cabbage soup and other bachelor delights
I have been eating a lot of cabbage soup these days. I like the taste. I like its warmth. I like to think that the loving Polish or Ukrainian baba who prepared it before it got bottled in jars for mass consumption made it just for me. What do I pair it with? A fine unoaked Chardonnay with some suckling pig, you might suggest? Nope. Nothing goes better with cabbage soup than a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The restaurants will be closed for another decade? Thai food will only exist in Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai? Lamb vindaloo will find its home only in the beach stalls of Goa? Naples has imposed strict trademark restrictions and embargoes on their pizzas? No matter. I have bananas, peanut butter, bread, and cabbage soup. Life is good, right? The quarantine will soon be over. It’s okay.
Boy, I sure could use a hug.