Diary in the Time of COVID-19

2 min read

Dear diary,

The day begins a little differently. It’s still the early days of COVID-19. As my job and my routines are upended, I wonder, how did we get here?

Although keeping a routine is often the best way to navigate this kind of big changes, my morning is still slippery. Knowing my commute is cut down to a walk to the kitchen, I’ve fooled myself into thinking I can stay in bed a little longer.

I’m rather grumpy this morning, partly due to the third trimester weighing heavy on my bladder and partly due to the knowledge I’ll doing more phone support.

My husband and I make sure to get out and stay active during the day. I enjoy the opportunity to leave the house and enjoy the fresh air, mindful that it’s one of the few times I see other people if from a distance. I wonder when we will also be told to shelter in place.

Recently, we’ve found our usual haunt unusually busy with people who would otherwise be at work or school and some of them congregating in groups. It seems like time to change locations.

We are keeping a close, almost hourly, eye on the news. There are press briefings daily; the news is always bad. As of this writing, we are forbidden from gathering in groups larger than 10, and theaters and restaurants and bars are closed. Grocery stores are shockingly empty. Our first death from COVID-19 came on Wednesday, March 18.

My husband recounts his trip to the grocery store with dark amusement, where the ramen was gone but cans of soup remained. The elderly were out, shopping with latex gloves and masks.

I don’t consider myself a particularly social person, but there is lots I miss about my usual routine that involved other people. The little face-to-face interactions with my coworkers is replaced by chat messaging, where it’s easy to miss context and ignore and be ignored. There are get-togethers and club meetings that are going online or disappearing altogether.

It doesn’t yet feel like we’re in it for the long haul. It feels like some liminal space–a weird temporary vacation that I have to work through. The husband keeps using the word dystopian to describe our days and I can’t disagree, though I can look outside the window and see the world looking as normal as ever. Spring is here, greening the world and opening buds; nature is as indifferent as ever.

How did I get here, with my makeshift workspace at my kitchen table, avoiding social contact and answering IT support calls? How did the world change, for however long this will be? Like Hemmingway said, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Diary in the Time of COVID-19”

  1. Dystopian…yeah, that’s about right for now. Our lives, routines and contacts are certainly changed. However, we have to remind ourselves that this will pass. It is our knowledge that we are all having similar experiences that passes for shared/social connections. I’m reading a new book about Churchill…The Splendid & the Vile, by Erik Larson. While I’ve read biographies about Churchill before, this recent venture into his story reminds me of what the British must have felt during the Blitz on Britain. While we are certainly justified for feeling anxious now, imagine knowing that tonight, during a full moon, hundreds of bombers are coming to bomb your town…and there’s nothing you can do about it. The courage & will to move on & survive is astounding. I wonder sometimes if our generations still have that indomitable human spirit to press on, persevere and be resilient. I suppose we’ll see…but I have faith in us. We will, because we must.

    1. It’s a good time to reflect on the past, on those very trying and exceptional times, such as WWII. I think there are certain parallels. While I certainly wouldn’t compare COVID-19 to a blitz, I have certainly reflected on the helplessness in knowing that outside there is a silent, invisible enemy. I don’t know how close it is. I don’t know where it is. And I have to go out–or my loved ones have to go out–and risk facing it. Hopelessness is a killer though. However powerless a situation might feel, the only way through it is to focus on what can be realistically controlled. Otherwise, there lies paralysis and depression.

      Of all the things I worry about, I don’t worry about whether our generations have the ability to face such things. I think it is a fundamental human property to press on in such occasions. How we do it may look different from past generations or current expectations, but we do it all the same. It is built in.

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