Day 7: Thursday, March 19//Spring Equinox
The ladybugs are no longer amused when I spray the window, covering it with water droplets. It used to stop their frantic scrambling. They would pause, slurping up the window puddles with their tiny mouth parts. Even they are tired of being trapped inside. I keep finding more of them, in piles, dead on the windowsills.
I meditate to this this video. I have to listen to it twice before I am truly present. I listen again and forgive myself for not being present.
Aunt Donna is in the hospital. Not with the virus, but with an urgent medical issue. “When it rains it pours,” my mother tells me over the phone.
Eric shows me two piano pieces he recorded today. The pieces total four now: “Quarantine Music #1-4.” With the headphones on, sitting in the parlor, the sound of the rain tapping at the windows, the minimalist piano piece is soothing. “It’s beautiful,” I say “I just realized I’m tired.” I go to bed and he records for two more hours.
Day 8: Friday, March 20
My mom calls and says she read my last diary entry. “Appropriately pathetic.” We laugh but when she starts to cough I panic. “I just swallowed wrong!” she says.
I’ve been coughing for several days. That happens to people sometimes. My chest has felt tight for the past few days. That also happens to people sometimes. I take my temperature just to be safe. It’s 99 degrees. I don’t tell my mother. (Sorry Mom). I will monitor myself just like my R.N. mom taught me.
Eric and I open the doors and remove their glass inserts, putting the screens in for what we know will be only just a day. The winds pick up. They’re warm and they gust through the house. “We’re not supposed to get a tornado are we?” I ask. I imagine all the makeshift testing station tents blowing away. “Because that would just be great.” I check weather.gov. No tornadoes. I nuzzle myself into Eric’s chest. “Do you still have a temperature?” he asks. I check again. My heart is racing and I’m convinced it’s increasing my temperature. My temperature is back to normal. With no NSAIDs.
The snowdrops bloomed today and the hellebores are starting too. When I tell this to Eric he points to a succulent in the sunroom that’s also blooming and says “Wow!” It’s so adorable that I don’t want to correct him, but I still want him to see the hellebores. “Out here,” I say, pointing through the window. “Wow!” he says again. It’s been nice quarantining with him. We’ve only had one fight so far.
Eric’s having a virtual cocktail hour with his college buddies. We are living in a strange, strange time.
After dinner I get heartburn. Right before bed Eric gets it too. He is deathly afraid of vomiting. Anything that reminds him of vomiting makes him think he’s going to vomit. For 2 hours he’s convinced he’s going to vomit. He looks pale. I take his temperature just to be safe, even though I’m sure it’s only heartburn. The mercury doesn’t move past its lowest: 96. “You didn’t put it under your tongue properly,” I say. I try again. It’s still 96. He feels cold. I google what it means to have a low body temperature. Maybe he’s just cold. Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe he has an infection. I tell him to put some clothes on and he meditates on the bathroom floor. I take deep breaths. He finally comes to bed and falls asleep.
Day 9: Saturday, March 21
Eric tries to hold my hand in the middle of the night. He feels hot. I realize I’m sweating. I’m worried we’re both sick. I realize we’re still covered with the heavy wool blanket that I stole from a hostel in Amsterdam when I was in college. This was before I knew about bedbugs. I throw the blanket off of us. I fall back asleep. In the morning I feel good. I take my temperature. 98 degrees. I let Eric sleep for another half an hour. I wake him up to take his temperature. 98.2
I put the best Bonnie Rait album on the record player and drink my coffee alone in the sunroom. When I start thinking about all of the things I’m afraid of I realize I’m only afraid because of how grateful I am to have them to begin with. Instead of fear I will focus on gratitude.
We walk to the post office. There are photocopied signs taped everywhere telling people to follow CDC guidelines and stay 6 feet apart from one another. It appears that the maximum occupancy of the post office is now only 3 people. There is not enough room here for everyone to stay 6 feet apart. I tell Eric to wait outside.
Walking home we zigzag across the street, from one side to the other whenever we see people coming toward us. It’s amazing how much we’ve taken for granted.
I spend the afternoon outside in the cold sunny air, raking and clipping back winter’s detritus. Uncovering emerging green. I rediscover new plants we added last year that I’d forgotten about. Those days seem so quaint now.
We hike back up to the waterfalls to meditate again. This time it feels good and healthy to feel my heart beating. I sit on a mossy clearing in-between hemlocks and beech jutting out over Buttermilk Falls. I feel the cold ravine air rush up toward me. Eric sits below at the edge of the waterfall. He has been meditating on his fear of heights.
There is a high school couple around the bend from us. The boy is throwing large bluestones into the creek. Their presence is distracting. I wonder if their parents know they’re out here, holding hands. Not social-distancing. The boy is being goofy and stupid. Like 17-year-old boys are. The girl accepts this as normal. After awhile they notice us and hike out. I’ll be 40 in two months and I still wonder what they think of us, this old-ish, young-ish couple meditating in the woods.
I pretend I’m the girl:
I’m dating this very goofy boy who is 17 going on 12. I see a couple meditating on the ledge of a waterfall. I dump this boy once we get out of the woods. I put Enya on my stereo and light candles and incense in my bedroom. I turn on my blacklight. I write in my journal. Life is complicated and confusing, but at the very least I ought to allow myself to be me.
Day 10: Sunday, March 22
We spend the afternoon with the chainsaw clearing the field of weed trees. The ones with calipers 2-3″ around. Too big to mow over with the tractor, too thick to cut down with the loppers.
“I wish there wasn’t a fire ban,” I say. Our woodpile is taller than me and 2 Erics long.
“A lot of people wish for a lot of things right now,” Eric says.
I’d nearly forgotten about the virus.