This afternoon, about an hour after I finished the old-fashioned, Mennonite-style spring cleaning I gave my home during week two of my quarantine period; I received an email from the Government of Canada informing me that it was over.
As I consider what was different about my life during 14 days of Federally Ordered Quarantine and days prior to C-19, at first it seems not much.
- I couldn’t hop in the car and drive anywhere.
- I wasn’t allowed to walk outside.
- I haven’t had a hug since 2 April (when I parted from A in Omotesando and we said if this kills us it kills us—which it did).
Though I will be able to drive, shop for myself and go for walks, the news is not a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Self-isolation remains necessary. Major changes will be part of the new normal:
- I won’t shop multiple times a week.
- I won’t visit people or flit around various neighborhood venues in my city for diversion.
- Events I normally attend monthly or weekly are cancelled indefinitely.
- There are no live concerts.
- I won’t enjoy restaurants or non-essential shops as none are open.
- I can’t schedule non-emergency appointments for health care or self-care.
- It will be harder to find people to make service calls for in home repairs.
- There will be no relaxed face to face moments for coffee, happy hour, dinner with anyone.
- The select few I may meet must remain 2 or more meters distant.
- There’s still no safe way to hug (except perhaps this one).
Anything else I might get into is what I usually do and maintained while under quarantine.
- After meditation and breakfast I shower, style my hair and dress. If I’m planning a grubby job I’ll shower afterwards.
- As needed, I undertake the usual domestic routines–making the bed, preparing meals, doing laundry and cleaning.
- I enjoy any number of on-going projects and keep up online connections with friends.
- I set an elegant table with the china, silver and crystal.
However, what I noticed (even before I left Tokyo where I was taking extra precautions) is how much more energy I consume as I use strategies to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
- I wash and microwave cloths used to sanitize countertops, sinks, computers, phones and other hard plastic much more frequently and in hot water.
- I use more paper towels, hand sanitizing wipes, bleach wipes, liquid bleach and peroxide (chemicals I generally avoid) than I normally would.
- I no longer save plastic bags from the grocery store which I repeatedly repurposed prior to C-19 as the virus lives a long time on plastic. I’m not prepared to scrub and dry them all, and I don’t have a suitable space to let them decontaminate on their own.
- C-19 is airborne and by compressing a bag that might contain it, the virus could be released into the air. Therefore, the garbage I create is also less compact and double bagged to better protect others from ruptured bags.
However, all of these are minor moves in a long game. As it seems we are going to be stuck in isolation limbo for some time to come, we have the time to realize the multiple levels on which this invisible threat changes—even devastates—everything. Despite all the “virtual togetherness” and stories of human kindness which emerge in the flood of negative news, eventual outcomes remain uncertain for us all.
In the meantime, as we wait for the sword to fall I’ve decided to paint the main bathroom, kitchen and trim. Before I moved in to my present home in 2019, I replaced the carpets and painted the rest of the walls. However, I left the remainder for a time when I had less to do. That time is now.