In Other Words: Diary of a Mad Recluse
No need to panic, I tell myself. We will get through this. I am feeling stoic and strong despite the fact that coronavirus cases are rising every day. This puts me slightly off-kilter, but hey, I am not one to complain. I am grateful for my basic creature comforts: food, shelter, fresh running water, electricity, telephones, and modern appliances. I am self-isolating - a model member of society. I feel proud. I also feel tense.
I slept fitfully, which is to be expected since my natural rhythm is off, due to the lack of fresh air and sunshine. I was told not to go out or receive visitors, who could be carriers. I talk by phone, write e-mails, and sometimes do FaceTime with a select group of friends and family. the latter of which is frankly not my favorite mode of communication since I haven’t worn makeup for a month. I prefer to ride out this time au natural. After all, I am not a vain person. What’s the point? I see nobody, except when I walk to my mailbox, which has become my daily form of exercise. My mailman, who practices proper pandemic protocol, is my only contact with the outside world. He is clothed in mask and gloves as he pops my mail into the box, waving to me from six feet away.
I will reward him handsomely next Christmas, assuming we’re both still alive and breathing.
As for my bed, no need to make it. I’m only going to get back in it for my daily afternoon nap. Yes, naps, which I never indulged in before, are my ‘new normal.’ They help pass the time between lunch and dinner. I am no longer concerned about being properly attired. I alternate between Sweat pants and pajama bottoms, and my old ratty college sweatshirt. I have dragged my fuzzy bunny slippers out of the closet, and my hair, which is naturally wild, has now grown beyond my shoulders. I look like what’s-her-name in “Grey Gardens.” I have taken to eating chocolate, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two food groups I once considered decadent, but which I now view as my daily sustenance. I suddenly feel liberated, so je ne sais quoi. Eating is my favorite new activity.
It’s official: I am a sloth - a new persona I embrace with nonchalance and great satisfaction. I stare into my refrigerator hourly, and I am caught up in more mundane pursuits like Netflix-binging. Survival is the name of the game, though I will admit I am becoming slightly edgy from lack of physical contact. I am thinking of reaching out to my old therapist, but she will only tell me to take deep cleansing breaths, and drink lots of water. Being well-hydrated is key, but my wine rack is bare. Who would have thought I would ever need to stock up on wine? All I have is one lousy bottle of cheap Merlot, a birthday gift from my Cousin Sheldon, the podiatrist.
The weekend is upon us and all this “social distancing” is getting old. I am usually not one to be bored, but how much news can a person watch, which only serves to raise my anxiety level? Instead, I turn my attention to the Bravo Housewives, and the Jewelry Channel, the latter of which is absurd, because where would I be wearing jewelry anyway? Those days are over. I don’t even dab cologne on my pulse points any more. I have become fragrance-free, except for my nightly bubble baths, which, aside from mealtimes, are about as much fun as I get these days.
It’s Saturday and my wonderful neighbors deliver food, which they deposit at my front door. I leave it there for 24 hours. The very sight of a paper grocery bag incites terror. I rinse my new container of Tide in sudsy water, and I boil my mail - not a good move, I discovered. I was never a fearful person, but my psyche is getting a good workout, and I am starting to have night sweats and an intense desire for company. I was thinking of adopting a cat, but I am afraid the beast might have picked up the virus at the animal shelter. And how would I get it home considering I am on lockdown? I am also thinking of making masks out of my old bras. A girl can get very creative when forced into isolation.
I woke up feeling a little sniffly and my complexion is between the shades of ochre and puce, but nothing that a bit of lipstick can’t help. My left eyelid twitches constantly now, which is probably due to poor circulation from being idle for days. I listen to music, which calms me, and I write poetry, and read trashy novels. I have lost my intellectual edge, and I have become fidgety. I am looking for my Happy Place. I stare out the window and see that my forsythia bush is in bloom. The sky is blue. The grass is green. Birds fly around the feeder. The world is still spinning on its axis. I confess to having a mad crush on Dr. Anthony Fauci, a man who tells it like it is - when he’s allowed to - and let’s face it, what it is ain’t so good. Even the good doctor can’t save us.
But as I said, I am not one to crash in the face of adversity. N-n-no need to panic. I’m fine. Still standing. A-Okay. Super-duper. It’s. noon. I think I will take a nap.
Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at judithmarks-white.com.