This is Day 11 of the pandemic. I’ve been lucky to have slept well this past week.

I left the charging cord to my Fitbit in a desk drawer at work, so I’m uncharacteristically un-monitored these days. And getting used to it. I wake rested. Sometimes waking thinking of work-related tasks, or sorting through fragmented ambitions, but never having to remind myself of this exceptional reality.

On Thursday my body itched head-to-toe. That happens sometimes when the creatures under my skin, living in symbiosis with me, notice my subconscious fear and complain. Like tenants banging on the landlord’s door.

E. and I ran in the woods, then I came home and sipped on a neat 18 year-old whiskey. We watched something so silly I forgot what it was.

Then I slept. No one banging on the door.

The dog still needs to pee at 6 am. He still comes in and gallops to the cupboard pre-zoomies energetic, waiting for his treat that is like a starting gun for him to dart around the living room like a whirling dervish. 90 pound Tasmanian devil. Silly hound dog expression so at odds with his enthusiasm.

Yesterday, walking Leonard,  I remembered this past autumn – when the dogs were dying of some unidentified cause – all over Norway. No one knew why, and we were told to avoid other dogs until they could sort it out. We traced large arcs around the neighborhood. They never sorted it out. And the concerns seemed to fade away.

Now we walk large arcs to avoid other people.

I woke at 2 last night. Then at 4.

As I write this I don’t even want to try to remember the details of the dreams I had.

Just casting my mind in that direction, a coldness that wraps around my chest – high, up under my armpits. It makes me aware how vulnerable my center is. Just above my belly button, a hollow burning. Some kind of hunger.

I eat frozen grapes.

And that is seriously not helping.

 

When I took the Heathrow Express to the airport, heading to Edinburgh and then south to the Northumberland trail run, it has already started.

A woman sat down in the seat beside me wearing a face mask. And I wondered if she was protecting herself or protecting me. I wondered if she was being paranoid, or considerate.

We didn’t make eye contact during the 45 minute trip ( – counting delays –  I counted them by my inhalations). Which – considering there would be no way of knowing if she were offering a friendly smile – was probably for the best.

In Bramburgh, in the cold wind, 400 hundred or so of us were crammed inside make-shift tents, all wearing wristbands with sensors, sporting numbers pinned to our jackets or our tights. Dancing in place –  a little to keep warm,  a little to distract ourselves from the concern that the lines for the toilets at this last minute might be too long.

The next day I booked massages for the two of us at a spa in Edinburgh. Then I wondered if I should cancel the booking for the massages at the spa in Edinburgh. Wondered if E. would think I was silly for considering it.

We got back to Norway 2 days before the line was drawn on the calendar to mark quarantine for those who’d travelled to Italy and Austria during winter vacation. Still, I took my temperature every morning before going to school – figuring international airports are, well, international.

It seems like thing change suddenly, but the world creeps. It is our noticing that is sudden.

The last ten years I’ve had an itch for a kayak. I have this romantic idea of my own slow, steady effort –  while watching the birds nesting in the reeds.

I could take it all in – observing every little change during every long hour – during the days – the weeks. Not to document it, but to experience it.

Life doesn’t need to be exhilarating. I want to crawl in from under, away from all the chatter – and listen for the background noise. Just floating, attentive to the rise and fall of the water in a tiny lake. The sunlight glowing through my eyelids when I tilt my head up in the breeze.

The thing is, I know very well that I don’t have the balance required for that kind of solitude.