I’ve been thinking that this covid-19 crisis began on March 14th, even though I know it has been going on for much longer. But that day was when it got personal, on a local level. We started hearing about cases. Things started shutting down, a lot of things. Bars, restaurants, gyms, libraries, stores. People we know lost their jobs, a lot of them. Then a local death, and a state of emergency. And now someone I know (now 2). But has the long term reality set in?
If you take my arbitrary start date for it getting personal we are only six days in. I’m pretty sure everything I’m writing here will seem naive when this thing starts winding down, an historical document of sorts. That is, in part, why I’m writing this stuff. Partly to track my experience but also to have a dialog, even if only a few are reading.
Medium, where I publish things for my own entertainment, gives me stats on how many views I get and the percentage that actually read it ( magical algorithms at work). While some of my pieces get thousands of views, my only hope for these was ten a day, or at least a few. It is a way of validating my presence out here in the isolated world.
In an excellent New Yorker interview with an expert on social distancing, the term ‘home unit’ came up, as in ‘you should only interact regularly with members of your home unit’. Being single and childless, my home unit would appear to consist of me. But this is not the case. My home unit is me and my friend L, though we do not live together and are not an ‘item’. What we are is a mutual support system and an agreement that we are in this together. I guess this makes us a ‘unit’. A little bit impersonal but it works for me.
However, this means we expose each other to whomever we are exposed to. This, when you think about it, is not minor. In fact, it implies a level of trust few relationships require. We are messing with life and death stuff here, potentially. This comes at a time when my siblings and I have agreed that my brother and I should not visit our mother who is 88 and compromised, health wise. My sister lives with her so she is connected to mom. Have I prioritized L over my mother? No.
There is a common sense thing going on here. I can define the risk and we, my home unit, can decide if we can deal with it. But I will not bring my entire world to my mother, who is largely insulated from it and has been for a long time. It’s the price of social distancing, a term I think would be a little more alarming if I was inventing it. A little more intense.
So, six days in and I’m still thinking about some pretty fundamental things on a daily basis. Will I see my friend, who may be diagnosed, again? I can’t fly to the West coast and visit. She, like the entire Bay Area, is isolated.
Anyone who thinks reality is some kind of fixed thing is probably undergoing shock right now. All that acid we did as kids may be becoming useful these many years later…