What is easy?

What is easy, isn’t anymore: an easy statement. A basket in which I can put all my tight little observations, those plums of so-called wisdom that look so perfect but are mealy inside. Seven weeks into the pandemic, and I find myself up against old guilt, old worries, old patterns—was I too close to our elderly neighbour? Did I touch my face? Don’t touch the metal gate! Was that sneeze from allergies? I should bang more pots, plant more seeds, do more.

I am caught in new habits—washing canned goods, watching hours of Netflix and news, wandering.

I am never alone—both my husband and I were Covid 19’ed out of work. Our newly-adopted rescue cat herds us like she’s a Border Collie. Social media barges in. Zooming’s wearing thin.

And so, this is quarantine. A state of emergency. And what’s emerging from all of us, even those of us who are used to staying at home and liking it? For me, along with the common Corona-fearing sleepless hours, it’s the spectre of the future—is this what retirement will be? Pet the cat, make the bread, walk the ‘hood, pick the weeds, write the sentence, what’s for lunch, edit the sentence, what’s for dinner, buy more cream, buy more gin, repeat?

I want back into the illusion, the one where we’re all doing life our own way, the one where six feet apart is too far. The one where I took myself wherever the hell I wanted, whenever; the one where my husband’s steady forty hours a week and my twenty were keeping the marriage strong. The one where I could help another person by touching them, skin to skin, whether as a massage therapist or friend or sister. The one where I worked on my novel and its travelling heroine and it didn’t read like history.

What is easy, isn’t. Not anymore. And yet this, this months-long sequestering, is truly the easiest thing compared to front line exhaustion and exposure. We. Are. So. Fortunate. And so I fake a smile behind the mask I hook over my ears, just before going the wrong way down the cereal aisle, hoping my eyes will smile, too, say thank you to everyone still working to keep me fed, safe, entertained.

Anyway, anything else I’d say would likely come out as a whine.

Julie Paul

Have you been writing about you Covid-19 experiences? We invite you to tell your stories and to send us your essays and posts, of no more than four hundred words, to be shared with the CNFC community via this blog.