On Thursday, September 24th, I was off work pending the results of a COVID test; I didn’t think much of it, since I only go to 4 places these days and am masked at all of them except for the gym. I didn’t have a fever, or aches, or anything like COVID symptoms I’d heard of, so I wasn’t particularly concerned. Being off work that day worked out well enough, because I was starting a dogsitting gig at lunch that would last for two weeks. Now, instead of burning my lunch hour driving from the library to the house, letting the dogs out, and hoping they’d come back in so I could leave for work on time — eating in a hurry as I waited — I could just go to the house in the late morning, wholly at my leisure. I didn’t bring much with me, just a weekend bag and some taco fixings, because I figured it would be better to get the lay of the land and figure out what I needed to bring for a two-week stay in the house. Immediately after I arrived, I received a call: I was positive for COVID. “Well, crap”, I said to the doctor. “Yes,” he replied.
That left me with a dilemma. My host was on the road to Houston: should I tell her? I’d already been in the house, I reasoned, trying to figure out which bedroom I was meant to use and where everything was. I had eight animals to tend to, with a daily list of things to stay ahead of the chaos they’d create on their own — a litter box to clean twice daily, pills to deliver, etc. The house was dark and I didn’t know where the switches were, so receiving that call only doubled my disorientation. The afternoon was spent with a lot of texts and phone calls to alert people who I’d been in contact with since Sunday (when I recalled feeling oddly tired after the gym), and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do for the next two weeks. Fortunately I was able to arrange a time with my housemates to raid my home in their absence for foodstuffs and books, both equally important. Friends and family also brought me books & food from time to time: I was near both a WinnDixie and a Subway, so it was easy for me to order something and then have someone pick up my order when they were getting groceries for themselves. I wound up telling my host the next day, once she’d arrived and settled in, and she was utterly gracious: her adult daughter even volunteered to bring by supplies if needed. (I was able to return the favor, sort of: my host was later pinned down in Houston by the hurricane, and I was able to stay several more days beyond what we’d originally planned.)
The first weekend was the hardest, as I was simultaneously still coming to terms with the house and its many furry occupants, as well as getting used to being a social pariah. I sorely missed the usual weekend things I do, the company I’d ordinarily keep. My supply-raiding window coincided with one of those events, and it pained me to drive by and see my friends gathering and know I could not be among their number. My friends kept my spirits up by calling and texting me, though, and once the first week started in earnest I established a routine: reading during the day, and watching Netflix only after supper. I was away from my computer, and didn’t want Netflix to become the new sinkhole. I have to fight my tendency to lock-in to the computer, purposely avoiding mine until I’ve gotten stuff done. The schedule worked out: I read over a dozen books in that time, doing serious damage to the the TBR pile, and re-watched most of my favorite episodes from ST TNG, ST DS9, and ST VOY. I also rewatched the first four seasons of The Office, finally got around to The Irishman, and realized: I just don’t care about Narcos Mexico season 2. If I couldn’t watch it during a three week quarantine, I’m not watching it.
I also played a lot of Among Us, since I could do it on my phone. Suffice it to say I’ve memorized the Skeld map, I’ve a good chance of winning Imposter rounds, and I’ve had numerous strangers propose to me in chat because for some reason this is a thing in Among Us. If you haven’t heard: this is a game in which players are little crewmen on a spaceship, but one of them is an alien whose mission it is to kill everyone and sabotage the ship. The regular players try to do little tasks on the ship, the Imposter hunts them and kills them. The regular players try to figure out who the imposter is before it’s too late. I blame CallmeKevin for introducing me to it.
On Friday, I received the good news: I’m COVID free. I still don’t feel up to spec energy wise, and my visits to the gym have made me realize that between the lack of exercise and the illness itself, I’m not the terror of the track that I was a month ago. When I emerged, I noticed that Walmart had given up on pretty much all of its corona measures: the cattle gates are gone, the impotent stickers on the floor asking customers to treat the aisles as one-way are gone, and the sign urging people to wear a mask is gone. The overwhelming majority of customers are still masked from what I can tell between my two trips, presumably out of habit: it’s been a few months since Walmart introduced those measures. Winn-Dixie is still enforcing its mask habit, as is Subway — though they no longer block the counter with tables. On Saturday I celebrated my freedom with a friend, dining out at my favorite Mexican restaurant and drinking a margarita that cost as much as my food. They and several other businesses I visited during this celebratory trip are still asking for masks, but I don’t think they require them: I saw people in both without masks, and the employees were not bothered. I’ve been more careful with my mask since emerging, though I’m still not convinced they’re particularly efficacious.
Tomorrow will mark my return to work. I’m told that they’ve been overwhelmed in my absence, and it’s nice to know my size 14 shoes are hard to fill. I’m rather dreading tomorrow, as Mondays are always super busy — and I also have three weeks’ of beard growth that I have to shave off now because of the dress code. Alas, corona beard, you were fun to have. I have a bunch of corona reviews I’ve yet to do, but I haven’t done any reading this weekend: not only have I had other things on my mind, but my head is a bit tired. I’ve been postponing my German lump-review in hopes of adding another to it (Collapse in the West or something like that), but I’m crawling through the title. I think my poor head is just tired after tackling so much history these past three weeks.
In the end, I’m grateful for those friends who kept me sane, grateful that I serendipitously was dogsitting for the same exact interim that I was in quarantine, and grateful that my personal COVID experience was extremely mild, considering others are on ventilators. I have several elderly friends in hospital now because of it. I’ve a lot of work to catch up on, from goodreads tags to blog updates and actual work-work. Apparently no one else wants to create the reports I generate for the library board, and they’re meeting this week!