A Bubble Inside a Bubble
This morning we’re listening to Hozier. The hardwood is cold but the fire is working on it. I took my temperature and it read 101.2F and certain death set in, before I realized I was drinking hot coffee. Every fart and ache is old Grendel’s mother herself, COVID-19, come to separate my membranes! A confirmed case of hypochondria, with creamer and cardamom… Just when I am sure I know it is nothing, I notice again how wretched, tired, and disoriented I feel. There is a parallel condition called COVID-NEIN! The deep fear of getting sick, and getting others sick.
Leon learned to stack the colored rings on the post last night – which is highly advanced and indicates his success is a foregone conclusion. We think, quite seriously, about how his life should unfold. At 82, he would see the next century if it’s still there. As uncertain any of it is, he will likely live to not remember the terrible romantic comedies set in the era of COVID-19. The star-crossed lovers risking their entire Bollywood-sized family’s health for a single chance at true love. Or how Tinder went bankrupt or added a biological report. Leon created order rather than basic destruction, but he won’t create accessible memories until after we leave this chapter behind.
We don’t have internet at home, so within our quarantine we are also deprived of updates. I call it a data detox, but it’s a cringe-worthy lie. Lea calls it a bubble inside a bubble. In the last 24 hours we watched our mental health deteriorate faster than someone who ate acid and forgot they ate acid. Terrible visions of decline and fracture were sent upon us. We thought of leaving the country, the first world, and our marriage. We realized we forgot cyanide tablets along with 12-gauge shells and extra half and half. How many conversations are happening right now, hushed late at night, to not wake the baby? It was late in the evening that we remembered tenderness, the acid we didn’t take wore off, and we finally slept.
The next day we drove to the coast. The Pacific Ocean had that intense lapis color beneath the open horizon. Cumulus woodcut clouds scattered to the south and north. We walked down to Blind Beach through the vegetation to the sound of surf and eastward breezes, picking wild plantain for tea that afternoon. The storm had thrown starfish and driftwood high on the beach. Two fishermen cast their lines into the surf and three teenage surfers ran past us down the beach and over empty shells, past ancient boulders twisting with stratifications the color of bone and fat.
I tried to return a starfish and the crab hiding under it from the gulls to the underside of a boulder half way into the surf. I was momentarily trapped as the tide moved around the cluster of boulders at Blind Beach, to risk nothing at all, except the passage of time on a rock. Between the ancient stones, waves crash in and upwards with greater force than the narrow passages can distribute. Foam twists around the smoothed rocks where the anemones hide away. The tide recedes and I leap inland up the bluff and we drive home.
On the way we distantly socialize (Lea’s riff on things) over text and phone calls to friends. The State Department advised our fellow countrymen to come home from the world, and so my aforementioned disaster comrade will return from Mexico to his own hermetically sealed bubble. Last night, the entire State of California was asked to shelter in place (which sounds better than quarantine, admittedly) while our population bottlenecks through the limited hospital capacity we possess. Day by day, we slowly become the Hollywood extras in another suspense thriller involving FEMA, the CDC, podcasts, and washed up starfish.
When we get home I am distressed to discover someone has already used the term “quarantini” in a sentence. It came from an invitation to have a small gathering with Lea’s circle of mothers. I would not want to live alone right now, but quarantining with a toddler presents its own dilemma. We may normalize to greater physical distance in this society, but we will need small, platonically amorous groups that can tribe together and trust its members to maintain the membrane. Here. Have a quarantini and put on some “quarantunes”.
Recipes for Disaster
Treat glass rim with E-Mergen-Cee powder
Chilled vodka or 12-pumps of preferred hand sanitizer
Zest of lemon
Dash of Vermouth
Olive, from a can
Optional crushed zinc tablet if you haven’t snorted it already
Served in a chilled martini glass
Muddled Plantain leaves
Served in repurposed marinara jar
Tequila or 50% rubbing alcohol
Tang (or OJ if you’re the jerk who bought all of it)
Splash of red dye (since no one bought those neon red cherries, right?) Or elderberry syrup if you’re vibing
Stirred over ice an 8-ball glass or wide mouth Mason jar
Any combination of cleaning products from under the sink (if you can get past the baby lock)
Straight up in a brandy glass
Optional woodchip garnish
From our family to yours!
March 20th, 2020