Retreat, Days 31-34: The Waiting Room

Most of last week, it was hard to settle and I felt overwhelmed by uncertainty. From the start of the restrictions, I’d prepared myself for a long period of social distancing; but the lack of a clear exit strategy was getting to me. I don’t think I’d truly accepted how far away normal life might be.

But I’m relatively lucky. I have thick walls and ceilings, a decent library, and a stable job. And I’m also a long way from the front-lines, which are horrifically portrayed in a New York Times article by Helen Ouyong I’m an E.R. Doctor in New York. None of Us Will Ever Be the Same. Sometimes, at the home front, it’s easy to forget the seriousness of the situation.

I’m sleeping a little better. I’m still waking up very early, but going to bed very early seems to compensate. I’ve had a surprising number of dreams where I meet Warren Ellis – I’m not sure if this is a weird campaign for the new season of Castlevania on Netflix.

I’ve taken things slowly this weekend. I’ve had Whatsapp off for a lot of it, and have been reading. I ran a Not for the Faint-Hearted session which seemed to go very well. I’ve made sure to keep the curtains open during the day, and cut down on the amount of TV I’ve been watching. I was relieved to pick up some new supplies of hand sanitiser. I’m lucky to have a certain peace much of the time under lockdown. Oliver Burkemann wrote a thoughtful piece on his experience of time during social distancing. While acknowledging that his situation is one of privilege compared to many, he notes a lesson in the heart of this experience:

It’s dawning on me that much of what I called busyness, before coronavirus, was really scatteredness – a focus on too many things, including some I unconsciously knew were a waste of time… For now, there’s the oddly peaceful sense of days being spent as they ought to be.

The postal system is the closest thing I have to human contact these days, and I had a flurry of interesting things arriving, which did a little to counteract the creeping loneliness. I also had the new issue of Fortean Times, and some materials for the new zine, which should be off to the printers within the next few days.

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