What can I say about this virus that hasn’t been said? I haven’t worn a bra in weeks. I have noticed but not fully acknowledged the scum buildup in the toilet since I put my cleaning lady on paid leave. I have dug my overgrown nails into my calloused fingertips to prove to myself that I’ve done something creative during this unbearable lull. I’ve cooked for the first time in many months. I’ve played the Sims for hours. I’ve considered making a TikTok.
I’ve rotated my desk ninety degrees to provide better lighting and a neutral background for online classes. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never see my own students, whom I’ve had for a year and a half and love dearly, again. I have cried about that. I’ve commended the Vietnamese government for closing schools right away and also lived in visceral fear of being dragged away to a quarantine camp.
I have watched my neighbor across the alley put her laundry up every morning and take it down each night, measuring out, like coffee spoons, this halted life. I’ve listened to her smack her kids, I’ve listened to them cry, and I’ve carried on watering my plants; overwatering them; having faith in them; killing them.
I’ve dreamt of the dead. I watched footage from inside a Wuhan hospital of a man slumped, greyish-yellow and waxen, in a wheelchair, his daughter holding his lifeless body up. I’ve watched videos of Italians singing from their balconies, breathing joy into their cities as if performing CPR on these times as their parents and grandparents become statistics. I have called my grandmother.
The virus gets closer and closer to me – it’s in the cities in which I’ve lived, it’s in the hospitals in which my family members work, it’s in the family members of my friends, it’s in my own family. It hasn’t infiltrated my house, but it is in my neighborhood. The last time I drove down the main road, it was all but empty – storefronts shuttered, sidewalks empty, quiet. It’s just so quiet. It’s a heavy silence – like we’re lying in wait, like we’re under siege, like we’re pretending to sleep.