Dispatches From Home: Day 1

Today is our first full day spent entirely at home, implementing the social distancing measures recommended by the government.

It’s also Saturday. We usually spend most of the weekend at home anyway, but it’s weird to have no choice in the matter. We keep starting sentences and trailing off midway, suddenly remembering our circumstances: “we should go get croissants,” one of us will say, or “we should go run this errand,” and then, slightly deflated, “or not.” All our favourite little non-activities, now on hold indefinitely.

Like many, we are staying home. Neither of us are sick, and I intend to keep it that way. And, as the TV keeps telling us, we are helping reduce the strain on the healthcare system and keeping the community safe. All by doing nothing! It seems unlikely, yet here we are. I’m vaguely comforted by the thought of millions of other people across the country, the continent, the world, all asking the same questions: “what should we make for dinner?” or “what should we watch on Netflix tonight?” Life moves forward, minus the parts we used to spend outdoors.

For now.

So, Saturday: we make coffee, we watch YouTube videos, we work out in the living room. I make a chicken stew that’ll be even better after it chills overnight. Adrian sharpens my chef’s knife for me, and the repetitive swooshing of the blade against the stone makes me feel calmer. I watch lots of Instagram Stories.

We’re having nachos for dinner. Our movie pick for tonight has yet to be determined, but if I have my way, it’ll be a) animated and b) in no way connected to reality. Maybe Disney’s Hercules. (I’ve been talking about Hercules all week long.) Tomorrow, we will get up and do this again.

Here’s what I’ve read or watched today:

Wuhan Today: Disinfecting Epicentre City (YouTube)

How do you disinfect a city five times the size of London?

P.J. Vogt on Reply All’s Instantly Legendary Episode (Vulture)

DO NOT read this until you’ve listened to the episode first! It will absolutely take your mind off the state of the world for one glorious hour.

We’re Not Going Back to the Way Life Was Before (Slate)

The O.J. Simpson trial helped tank the popularity of daytime soap operas. The New York transit strike of 1980 is credited with prompting several long-term changes in the city, including bus and bike lanes, dollar vans, and women wearing sneakers to work. The 1918 flu pandemic prompted the development of national health care in Europe.

A City of Bodies (The Cut)

I felt resourceful as I gathered these items, mentally narrating their irrefutable practicality, unsure whether my husband would view my behavior as alarmist. I picked up some not-yet-strictly-necessary toilet paper. Everywhere there were Clorox wipes. I picked up Clorox wipes. I brought my purchases home. Surfaces, I thought, swabbing doorknobs and light switches. I felt newly aware that my doorknobs and light switches existed in a default state of filth — cleaning them now felt like an inadequate response to all the filth that came before and would come after. But, still. Why not?