During my strict two week quarantine, I was only allowed to move throughout this floor. Anytime my dad would see me he would be wearing gloves and a mask. Being confined, being approached as though I would be the end of him was scary. The fear I had put off so long became a different reality.
My two weeks were occupied with reading books, primarily Gandhi. Who I seriously dislike, even though my aunt told me to read it a few years back. I seriously struggled with the idea of stopping reading it, or continuing. See, he talks about being so strong willed, but then reports of abuse from little girls came to light. And I’m a strong believer when girls or boys come forward to report something. But on the other hand, I had been carrying this 500+ book around the world with me for over three years. I just wanted to finish it.
The first few days felt very productive. Although it was raining and the balcony was inaccessible to me, I walked 5 miles up and down the hallway everyday. I read, I watched television and listened to podcasts. But more importantly I felt new energy to invest into a future of stability. I love what I do as a scuba instructor, but I know that it is only a temporary arrangement. I want to do coral research, I want to make an impacting change.
I guess that’s what most millenials want to do though – be remembered for something they’ve done. But I have always had a drive to travel the world and make it better. I think it comes from my mom. She’s basically a flawed saint, so kind and loving, but always putting others before her. I have learnt throughout the years that it is okay to put yourself first every now and then. Regardless, now was a good pause in my life to change my life.
So, unemployed and uncertain with what a future would look like. I poured a lot of time into chatting with my friends and asking for advice. All leading me to linkedIn cyber stalking people and asking them to share what their daily life looked like before this and how marine biology, coral, sustainability all looks like on a private, public and academic side. Lots of thought and procrastination went into clicking send. It took me the whole two weeks to finally reach out to some people!
A few days it was sunny, I got to sit outside, walk on the balcony and enjoy the warmth I had left back in Barbados in such a rush. But when it became rainy again, that got to me. It got to the end of my positivity and optimism in my quarantine. The only thing holding me on my walking routine was a series of calls to important people in my life: Jonathan, Sacha, Saskia, Mom and a few others who I was not talking to on a constant but still remained part of my support system here in quarantine.
It is a weird world when you’re locked up. I never thought of myself much as an extrovert. I loved days when I finally was able to be alone and choose to sit at home, ignore my phone and binge watch tv. I thought that made me an introvert. But now that the choice is gone, now that I was forced to be alone, forced to be approached as a contagious animal, I no longer see myself as an introvert. It’s isolating. It is the very idea of being alone, completely alone. And yes, I have friends who are locked in different countries, friends who are locked into their studio. But I dont know anyone who has been approached as a helpless little injured animal. All independence was taken away (although yes I got amazing apple pie quite often), I was fed, given water, all under the surveillance of my father.
He has been taking amazing care of me. Feeding me breakfast and lunch, giving me snacks, and (only two glasses if I’m lucky) of wine a night. It was good, in addition to my 5 miles made me break even in my caloric consumption. But it is weird. It’s so strange having someone you love live below you, not being able to hug them or kiss their cheek. I haven’t been able to fully process it yet, but keeping 1.5 metres distance and the mask and all the things so we are sure no one is infected.
What if they do get infected? What if these measures are not enough and something happens? What then? Would it have been the risk of returning home?
These thoughts ran in my brain on a loop for 14 days. For 14 days anytime I would cough, my body would ache, or my head would hurt, I got scared. Scared that this was the definite sign I was ill. This was the sign that I messed up and should never have returned home.
Most days were good, a little routine to help my sanity was kept up. I wake up, coffee and a banana. Sit in bed, stretch my back, arms and shoulders. Get out and touch my toes. Open all the shutters and watch a movie or instagram stories. At around 10:30/11 am I would let my dad know I am awake and would like an omelette. Up it came and I would eat. Then walk outside or inside for an hour chatting with some people in Greece or Europe. I would sit outside, do yoga, or read my book in the sun. Sometimes towards the end dad would come up and have a coffee with me on the balcony when it was sunny. Then I would go inside around 3 pm the surrounding buildings block the sun out for the rest of the day. I would eat an apple and around 4:30-5 pm I would get some dinner. Most nights my dad and I would video call over dinner. Chat about what new policy is in place in Greece, how people are acting around and overall coronavirus. It seems to have taken up every conversation. At around 7 pm, Jonathan would be waking up in San Francisco, about to start a workout, or halfway through, and as I walked for my second hour of the day we chatted. Then I would go watch a movie, stretch, practice my headstands and watch shows till I fell asleep around midnight.
This is what my days looked like on average. Only a couple bad days in the two weeks. The worst day was when it was cold outside. I was walking indoors, a day or two before my sweet release. I had started drawing and doing some visualization work on what a future career might look like. Yes I can see myself in a lab coat over a microscope, but also scuba diving with slates. How do I get to this?! I was speed walking with a podcast on, and jammed my middle toe right into a doorway. So I tried walking it off, I don’t usually cry and I started tearing up. I chalked it up to the frustration of being quarantined, but the more I walked, the more I cried.
I sat on my bed, and waited for the toe to go numb and the feeling to dissipate. You know, like when you stub a toe and it just eventually goes back to being part of your body you never notice. It didn’t happen. That was four days ago. I fractured it. So, now I can’t walk. I limp. Two days ago I was officially set free, able to roam the two story apartment and even walk outside with my legal papers. I couldn’t do it then. I broke down crying in pain and anger. I was so close to being free, so close to being able to roam the streets in a quarantine-wise way.
So instead, here I am focusing on a plan of action for a career move, drawing disney princesses, and watching endless trash TV. Still talking to Jonathan everyday, but I have let a lot of my support network vanish for now. Four days would not be much if the world functioned as we have always known, but four days is a long time when you’re sad, when you’re struggling to see light even on sunny days.
Dad has been super patient with me, walking with me twice now. We take about 40 minutes to walk a mile and usually I’m in a lot of pain. But it’s amazing to change your surroundings. There have been a few rainy days two days ago. I haven’t been able to make it very far, but dad walks everywhere. He comes back with reports of herds of people in the town square. Heads on heads at the beach during sunset, lack of personal space.
Greece has been commended internationally for “flattening the curve.” They went into lockdown early, they managed to close schools, close shops/clubs/bars quickly. Greeks have been patient, have been following the rules. But with miniature fines, with few police enforcing, they got their revolutionary spirit back and are littering the streets. Easter is next weekend, no one knows for sure what that will look like. The government is trying to plead with the people to stay home, but people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and getting fed up with their homes. People are going outside and congregating. My fear evolved from my immediate to my long term: what if this goes on much longer than July?