翠子

华裔 在中国认同女权主义 在美国认同左翼 正隔离在德州 / a leftist in the US, a feminist in China; self-quarantining in Texas

Day 3 in Self-Isolation: just going outside is an intensely stimulating part of the day/疫情第三天: 户外是整天最大的刺激之一

I was really discouraged yesterday about how difficult it was to pull my thoughts together to write something. This morning, S and I chatted about diaries written by others about their experience during the lockdown in Wuhan, and we agreed that the really interesting parts in this moment are about the granular details of each day, rather than abstractions about what these changes mean more broadly. It's too soon for the latter. So I will try to focus on more details, although I feel that my thoughts always tend toward the abstract anyhow, and this will be a bit of a struggle.  

I've always kept a journal on and off since high school, but it's always been primarily a place for me of automatic writing to process my feelings, to quiet my frustrations and excitements by recording them before I go to bed. I very rarely going back to read any of it myself, and my accounts are often too vague for me to recall what I was referring to at the time, the writing always being on my feelings about the events of the day rather than the events themselves, and therefore laboriously repetitive.  

This is a different sort of record. Less for emotional processing and more for leaving an impression of what these days are like. I feel this compulsion because of how quickly our routines, habits, and values have been upturned. The last moments of the last era—just last week, it seems—are being caught up in the gears of history and ground into something new that reveals itself anew every few hours. And yet how quickly the changes incorporate themselves into our routines and become a part of our regular lives. Just three days into my quarantine, I have so many dates and meetings scheduled with friends that my calendar looks much as it would on a regular weekend. Revelations about distance no longer being a determining factor in who we reach out to and spend our time with have become suddenly commonplace. 

Today my partner A complained he was bored. In this moment, just going outside is an intensely stimulating part of the day. We sat outside in the backyard and sang along to karaoke versions of songs on YouTube that we've sung together in bars—Jolene, Hallelujah, and his favorite, Sea of Heartbreak. We also took a walk outside. We were a bit wary because we were caught out during a storm yesterday after deciding to make a stop at a pupusa truck and waiting for our order, and today's air held the same chilly, damp threat as yesterday. But it held, and we walked sometimes one in front of the other, sometimes side by side, rotating around one another along the road, sidewalk, and lawns as we tried to maintain six feet. I told him wistfully that it felt a bit like we were still in a long distance relationship. 

We maybe talk even less than we did when we were apart, which may actually be a bit of a relief for him, because he has always been laconic. We still call each other on our phones to talk, but now we don't recount our days or frustrations. I call him and ask him for snacks and to refill my thermos when I run out of hot water. He expresses his care in other ways now—giving me his bedroom and sleeping on the couch, leaving buttered toast, spaghetti, burgers, and ramen for me at his bedroom door and picking up my dishes when I finish. I feel apologetic and grateful, and this doesn't leave any room to express our usual frustrations with each other. It's actually sort of an idyllic time for our relationship.  

I often have a daydream that is a way of wondering how well A and I are suited for one another. In the daydream, we have survived an apocalypse and we have to rely on one another to survive and find meaning in our survival. Now that these strangely straitened circumstances have arrived, I'm learning that my impatience is submerged by gratitude for his unassuming steadfastness. None of these routines come naturally to him—on his own, he eats one meal a day and leaves his things in disarray. But he does all of this now out of an essential tenderness and loyalty that fills me with a profound gratitude and sense of security.       

At the same time as I am enjoying my satiety in A's presence, I am also beginning to feel more keenly the loss of the presence of others. Today the most unsentimental among us started sharing in our group chat how much they missed being together with everyone. "When we could, I actually never really cared about eating out that much," one of them said. "But now that we can't, I want so badly to get together with everyone and eat a three-course meal." As we remembered to one another the last time each of us had seen the others—at my house to pick up a suitcase, Thanksgiving (!)—suddenly we felt the fullness of each of these casual meetings, each one suddenly perfect in its simplicity. Thinking back to each occasion, I began to cry and couldn't stop. Not even out of sadness. But because we were all seeing the beauty of these ordinary moments together fully for the first time.

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