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A Day in the Life Under Quarantine

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Brandon and J.D. lifting weights in Catskill, from Alon Koppel's series "6 Feet Apart." - ALON KOPPEL
  • Alon Koppel
  • Brandon and J.D. lifting weights in Catskill, from Alon Koppel's series "6 Feet Apart."

I wake up. Should I have tea or coffee? Can't make up my mind. Should I have a shower first? Can't make up my mind. Such are the existential dilemmas brought about by life in quarantine. I skip the shower and have tea.

Should I take a walk or do yoga? I try not to make plans too far ahead—that's one of the tips they tell us about life in quarantine. Live in the moment. But one does need some form of exercise every day. I roll out my yoga mat. That's enough for now. Baby steps.

I remember I have a wife. She is quarantined in a city 120 miles away. I send her a text message. I stare at my phone and await her reply. Such is the drama of life under quarantine.

She replies. What she says is personal, so fuck off.

I look out my window. A mime is being arrested*. My goodness, they are rounding up the mimes. Who's next, I wonder, the jugglers?

Bob Dylan releases a new song. It's 17 minutes long. Perfect timing on his part, since no one has anything else to do now but listen to 17-minute Bob Dylan songs.

Time for another cup of tea. Should it be PG Tips, Yorkshire, or loose leaves of Assam? It's so great how even in quarantine one has choices. I choose Assam. "Good choice," I say to myself.

I remember I have two children. I call my daughter. She says she's busy having a party with her friends on Zoom and she'll call me back tomorrow. Is that a millennial thing? I don't even know if my daughter is a millennial. Maybe she's a Generation X or Generation Y. Who makes up this shit?

I make a video call to my son. We have a father-son book club. Every day we read a chapter of the new book, Hitler's First Hundred Days, and talk about it in a video chat. This was my idea, and he fell for it. Now he can be as obsessed about the parallels between then and now as I am.

I look at my yoga mat. It calms me.

The Bob Dylan song is about the JFK assassination. I search for a connection between that and our current situation. I can't find one. Wait. Yes. I have it. Kennedy did not want to die but he was killed. We do not want to die but we might be killed by the novel coronavirus. Now I get it. Brilliant. Epic genius, that Dylan.

I send a text message to my wife letting her know what the Bob Dylan song means. She doesn't reply.

Coffee time. My choices of method are automatic drip, pour-over, French press, or Moka pot. I choose tea.

The sun is shining, and the temperature is in the high 60s. It's the kind of day that draws everyone outside. Everyone but me. I know that everyone is going to be outside, which means it's not safe out there. I stay inside where it's safe. Maybe I'll have a lie-down instead of a walk.

I look at the calendar and see that today is our second wedding anniversary. I call my wife to wish her a happy anniversary. "Remember Rome?" I ask rhetorically. "Remember when Jemma disappeared?" I ask not rhetorically.

I look at the New York Times online. Boris Johnson is in intensive care because of the virus. You know as well as I do what we are all thinking. I stop thinking that and instead I think, well, there's a Brexit for you.

I look out the window. Only about half the people are wearing masks. Maybe the others do not keep up with the news. Not everyone is a news junkie, I remind myself. I often wish I weren't one. But whenever my mind goes there, I remind myself how important it is to stay well-informed. But in the end, is it really? You know the old saw.

It's 4pm, which means it's time to start thinking about what to make for dinner. I have no fresh vegetables left. I haven't set foot in a store in three weeks. That's the only reason I am still alive. I finally break into my stash of frozen vegetables. I have pouches of mixed vegetables, broccoli florets, and green beans. I choose mixed vegetables. Go big or go home.

It's 4:05pm. Too early to start cooking dinner. I put the mixed vegetables back in the freezer. It's too late for a cup of coffee. If I have one now, it will keep me up all night. I have another cup of tea.

I lie down on my yoga mat. I close my eyes. My mind drifts. Maybe, I think, I should write a brief essay about a day in the life during quarantine.

Instead, I play Bob Dylan's new song again. Wow, that's a long song, I think. But I've got time for that now.

Seth Rogovoy is a writer in Hudson.

*This really happened.

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