Today is January 30th. In about six weeks, we will have quarantined for a year. By “quarantined,” which is a fluid term, I mean all groceries delivered, masking at all times when within 20 feet of other people (except last summer when California was doing well and we ate outside twice), and avoiding public interiors except three retail moments.
I write this not to complain. Not that I might not complain another day, but this morning I was instead asking myself what I might have done differently 11 months ago, had I known how long we’d be in. Do you ever wonder?
I would have visited my best friend. I was set to go back East in the third week of March, but since the outbreak in New York was just getting serious and she lived in New Jersey, I did not. Had I known that Liz’s glioblastoma by then had almost certainly taken hold, had I known she would die 10 months later, I’d have bought a face shield, masked up, paid the price of a first class ticket, and flown hungry and thirsty across the country. I would have been safe enough in a way that I could not have been once the pandemic exploded.
Maybe I would taken her early symptoms more seriously, if I’d seen her. Maybe I could have gotten her in turn to see a doctor. For now, I will imagine her as best I can on that white beach in Scotland, turning a cartwheel, hair flying.
I would have set up a room for myself first thing. I know this feels ridiculous, in comparison to my best friend dying without my saying goodbye in person. But such is life as a human. And maybe the ideas are related, I do not know. When you ask a large question, answers come back as they must, big or small. But last week I finally bought a sofa to set up my room.
To be clear, I hope I am that person who washes their car in a drought and wakes up to pouring rain. The day after my purchase arrives, the days will warm, we will achieve herd immunity, and we’ll all rush into the streets rejoicing. It’s OK. I’ll still be glad of a place to write where I can’t see the kitchen and nobody’s on the phone. Alternatively, a place to be on the phone where no one else is writing.
So thank you all for the recommendations on what to do about furniture sizing. I cleared out what I would not be using and made templates on the floor. The sofa will go here, its place now marked by tape. It’s from Pottery Barn, as that was the only sleeper sofa that fit in the space I had that also came in natural fibers. I chose Textured Basketweave in Flax. I should write an essay on beige.
I may need to move the rug so it runs the length of the room or I may need to cut it down. I am not even trying to decide until the sofa arrives. But my yoga mat fits nicely either way. Now I need to choose a lamp for my mom’s oval table. I’m thinking super-modern.
Her desk is just opposite.
We will set up a treadmill, in the other half of the room, where you see the rectangle of packing paper. With any luck, it will face the bookcase in the first photo, and I will watch television on the monitor you see there. Stacks of paper will be replaced by a filing cabinet; exercise clutter will be contained in a basket.
The thing is, if I had actually known in March of 202o that come January 2021 we’d still be quarantined, I am not sure if I could even have absorbed the knowledge. It’s been so cataclysmic. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same and in retrospect there was no way to have known which would be which. I can imagine a sofa between painter’s tape, and a lost love on a beach, but those are my limits.
Today I hope that you’ve found something of value in these months, and that you do not berate yourself for any failures. Cue Diana Ross and the Supremes. Some day, we’ll be together.
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