Well I’m in my second week of self isolation. Last week began our first week of teaching online. The goal was for us to teach from school while the kids stayed home. That changed last Wednesday when Belgium went into lockdown at noon. By last Thursday we were teaching our first online classes from our living rooms. By 3 p.m. that Friday our borders closed. I am now living at a time where the police will pull you over if you have more than one person in a car, and you better have a good reason for being on the road. Fines are steep for those who get caught tempting fate. Not a problem for us since my car died last week, and, well, it’s now in auto isolation at the mechanic’s until the lockdown phase passes.
It’s all good, we’ve got nowhere to go anyway. Luckily the grocery store is within walking distance as are the parks, but don’t make the mistake of loitering in the park either. The police will find and fine you. People are dying, and Belgium is finally taking this seriously (we were all resistant to doing so at first because hello? cafe sipping is Life — until it no longer is).
We are allowed to go for a walk or run, and Badger still gets his walks, but we can only go with a person we live with (or alone), and we need to keep our distance from others. Wouldn’t you know the weather has been sunny — in Belgium where it always rains, so it’s a bit of a bright middle finger from Mother Nature.
I’m not complaining. We’re up to more than 6,200 confirmed cases (in the past 24 hours almost 1,300 people tested positive) and 220 dead, which the news and officials clearly stress is an understatement since they only test the severely ill and medical professionals. We’re obviously not alone since the whole damned world is shutting down to protect ourselves from this virus. I worry that too many aren’t taking this seriously enough, and I pray (I’m not even the praying sort of soul) that this whole exponential growth thing doesn’t, you know, grow exponentially. I’m not a math whiz or scientist, so I can still hold on to my hopes and dreams.
The beginning of last week I was a little excited about the teaching online thing because I mistakenly thought I’d get a lot of work done while in my classroom. Then I got excited about the idea of teaching from home — look Ma no pants! But, when we were told to pack up as much as we could because there’s no telling when we’ll be back, the reality of this all set in. I might be homebound for a lot of weeks (can’t bring myself to type the possibility of months). The probability of people I care about getting sick is quite high. I’ve already learned about a few deaths of people who knew people I know — luckily so far no one I’m close to has been confirmed of having it. Yet.
I worry about my children. I’m too far away from them, and I can’t tell them to come stay with me while we feast on my home cooked meals, watch movies and take dips in the pool (those days and that house are long gone). I can’t Vics vaporize them if they get ill. I can’t protect them from any crazy that might ensue, and I cannot pay all of them their missed salaries. My sons work in the restaurant industry, my daughter has her own small business, and her husband is out in the public risking his health, so that his family can continue to eat.
A few nights ago Joe had a coughing fit; occasionally my head hurts a little bit. We both have runny noses. Normally neither of these would be a concern. It’s allergy season. Joe could have inhaled a bug in his sleep because he hasn’t coughed since. I’m on the computer too many hours, so hello? of course my head hurts. I’ll be blind when this is all over with. But yeah the what if? lingers and embeds itself as tightly as the pestilence that waits for us on door knobs and handrails.
It doesn’t matter that most of us who get sick will recover — if any of us gets sick we will still stress. Sure most of us will be able to nurse ourselves at home, but what if we’re of that percentage that needs intensive care? None of us wants to drown in our own mucus, or cry home alone while our loved ones suffer. Joe and I (and many of our friends) have the added perk of not knowing much French, so communicating our ailments won’t be easy. So yeah it’s a scary time for all, even if we crack jokes and minimalize any potential symptoms we might get. Plainly put: this sucks.
But, it’s not all bad either. I do so enjoy my morning commute, and I’m adapting. My students and I still have our own learning vibe going (I do so miss working face-to-face with them, but their personalities still shine through). I’m keeping track of the kids that don’t talk so much via our virtual sessions, so that I can check in on them one on one later. We’re all coming up with ways to make this more fun. And, we’re remembering to remind people we care and that they matter — and they us.
We’re learning how to reevaluate our time, our presence, our what we have. My favorite memes are the ones that remind us that the only thing we have to do to save the world is to stay home — while still having food, all the joys of the Internet and our creativity (OMG keep it up you silly fools with all your stay-at-home antics. Have you guys seen the one where a couple does their own thing to a Horse with No Name?).
LOL I’m planning a photo shoot for Badger this weekend, so he can have fun being humiliated on his blog. A girl has gotta take a break from HBO, video and email chats, and online learning or teaching.
So, all of this will eventually pass, and we will all learn something from it — hopefully more good than bad. For those of us who will not get through this unscathed, know that we are all rooting for you (and ourselves) and blasting you with healthy, cheery, love-filled vibes. It’s all we have to offer — along with keeping our fat asses at home on the couch.
Stay safe everyone, and do your best to keep your home filled with positive, cheerful things. Our grocery store still sells fresh cut flowers, so our dining room table is blooming with life and color. If I could, I’d buy you all a little of the same. Hang in there, Humans. We’ve got this (even if it feels like we don’t).