Social Distancing Diaries, Part 1

It’s 10am and the sun is pouring into the apartment.

It’s an impossibly pretty Spring morning. On any other normal day, I’d be tempted to get dressed and head into the city to spend my afternoon there. I would pick my favorite co-working cafe and work there for hours, energized just by being around other productive people. These days going for a walk near our place is as exciting as it gets. Home has become my haven, and like many people lately, I’m trying to become best friends with this newfound isolation and space. These are strange times and Coronavirus seems to be on everyone’s mind.

These are my observations of life here in Switzerland as the world adapts to this global pandemic, the new normal and the not-so-normal.

Today, I woke up at 10am. I notice I’m waking up later than usual. What used to be an 8am morning starts around 10 now. I fall asleep later and the sense of urgency to be out and about is gone. My routine includes turning on the TV to the news to catch up with the latest, rolling out of bed, stretching and doing yoga, followed by coffee on the couch. Then I stagger my day out with online courses and job applications. The day evolves from there, but what I’ve noticed is that the days go by so quickly now.

Monday, March 16th: As soon as I step outside onto the balcony, the normally quiet neighborhood is filled with sounds of kids yelling and laughing. With all schools closed and most people mandated to stay home from work, it sounds more like summer these days. I see parents outside on phone calls trying to work and entertain all at once. Some put the laundry out for the sun to zap it dry and others just look like they’re taking a break from their kids. 😅

Wednesday, March 18th: I walk up to the forest behind our apartment for some much needed fresh air and am shocked at how many people had the same idea. The steep incline gets my heart pumping fast and I feel my cheeks get rosy. Once at the top I see an insanely beautiful view. Now one of the only activities people can enjoy is exercising, so there it is: families burning bonfires and the walking trails so packed with people and their pets that I have to find a less congested route.

Thursday, March 19th: I’ve been dealing with bad pain in my lower back lately. Sciatica. Today the pain is so bad that I can only manage to work from bed and do 400 steps in the entire day. I get temporary relief from working on my stomach. It’s a day full of pain and in the evening I cried a bit. It felt good to let it out.

Friday, March 20th:  My mood is much better today but I’m still in pain. At night, Laurens gets home before sunset (which is pretty rare) so we sit outside and enjoy a La Chouffe beer together on the balcony. The sky lights up in fiery reds, oranges, and pinks. This is the new weekend norm. No choosing which bar or restaurant to try, but staying in, enjoying home and Netflixing our hearts out.

I’m worried about what’s going on in the world but realize I’m lucky to be isolated with my favorite (and very handsome) human. I also think we need more board games in our apartment.

Saturday, March 21st: I head to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials (read: peanut butter) and notice there’s a line to get into the store. In my daydreaming state, I walk a little too closely to the woman in front of me. She whips around with her face mask and tells me to stay back. Before entering people spray their hands with hand sanitizer and depending on the store, use gloves to pick up the small basket. In these pandemic times, distance is everything and you can feel the tension. Even in the grocery store I feel rushed as I pick the week’s vegetables and fruits.

Later that evening, our two neighbors who live under us come up for drinks and a chat. They stayed for over five hours and I felt re-energized to have that simple social moment over some beer. It’s a weird thought that having people over is going to be a rare treat in the coming weeks.

Sunday, March 22nd: Heavy-hearted. I helped a family member apply for unemployment online today. I knew closures would effect the hospitality industry in Texas but the reality of the situation has hit me. With the amount of people trying to access the site, I’m not able to log on. What will happen to the millions in the service industry in Texas? And in the US? How will the government step up to alleviate things? Above all I think, will Trump continue to be a complete failure of a leader?

Monday, March 23rd:  On my way back home up the hill, I notice a young girl wearing a maroon Texas A&M (my alma mater) beanie. I smiled at her and had the urge to strike up conversation to find out if she was Texan or not. I mean, what are the chances? I would in any other circumstances but for now I pass up the chance. I’m reminded the world is a small place and hope to run into her again in more social times. As I’m thinking this, an oncoming couple goes completely around me by walking on the street.

Tuesday, March 24th: It’s another stunning day. Somehow the days are going by faster than I expected. As my friends in Texas are in the swing of their day, we jump on FaceTime and catch up. I feel happy to have these connections and these video calls lift my mood. Since most of my friends are scattered across the globe, I’m not new to staying in touch like this, but this feels different. We’re all at home sharing in on this strangeness and it’s kind of nice.

How are you experiencing staying home amidst Coronavirus? What are things like on your side of the world?

Let me know in the comments below. Stay safe and healthy everyone.

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