Quarantine Diaries: A recap of a writer’s day that absolutely no one asked for.
The piercing sound of my alarm goes off, rudely jolting me awake from a pleasant dream. Why do alarms always interrupt us at the exact moment something good is about to unfold?
I lie in bed for five minutes trying desperately to recall any details from my dream. No luck.
I traipse down the stairs to the kitchen and head straight to the Nespresso machine. Since I haven’t been able to work at my local cafe for over 3 months, this morning ritual has become like muscle memory.
Flip power switch on. Pop capsule in and press ‘Brew’. Place pot on stove. Dump chai leaves in and add milk. Pour espresso into pot, then tip the creamy chai mixture into a mug. Wait. Then sip. Exhale a sigh of contentment as the magical caffeine works its way through the body and *poof* — I’m a fully-functioning human.
I sit at my desk wondering what task I should tackle first. A responsible person would have planned out their day the night before. I, on the other hand, spent it binge-watching an entire season of Bones. Watching rotting corpses being pulled out of the ground makes me slightly grateful for lockdown. The chances of me being abducted by a serial killer are greatly reduced if I stay cooped up in my room wearing the same pair of sweatpants five days in a row. There’s the silver lining, folks.
I finally settle on the task with the most pressing deadline: overhauling a client’s website and rewriting the copy for their innovative, new gym accessory. I spend the morning researching girls who powerlift. Cue the inadequacy.
It triggers a memory of a guy I dated years ago who was obsessed with the gym. I resist the urge to stalk him on Instagram because I don’t have the emotional energy to dive down that rabbit hole.
I caved. Instagram tells me he has moved to San Francisco to be with his long-term girlfriend. They are #happy and #content. I feel a sentimental flood of nostalgia, warmth, and if I’m honest, a hint of sadness – though, not the angsty kind. It’s the feeling you get when you hear an old friend has gone on to do the exciting things you once thought you’d be there to see. He’s living the life he told me he’d always wanted. And funnily enough, so am I; it just looks a little different than I imagined.
I briefly allow myself to entertain thoughts of ‘what if.’ But then I remember that we wouldn’t have grown into the people we are today if we’d stayed latched on to each other’s lives.
What am I supposed to be doing again? Oh, right. Writing about powerlifting.
My dad calls out it’s time for lunch. I’m a recent grad who’s navigating the wild, wild west of self-employment, so of course, I’m still living at home. Perks? Dad is recently retired and has devoted his extra energy towards cooking and throwing words like ‘umami’ around. Lunch today is fluffy, homemade roti and dahl. De-lish.
By now, the post-lunch slump is starting to hit and I can feel my eyes start to droop. I’m tempted to nap for an hour. I’m my own boss, I tell myself. I’m in control of my day.
I do have a boss — two, actually. One is my mile-long To-Do list who is a merciless slave driver. The other is my calendar who screams deadlines and meetings at me. Defying them by taking a nap would only cause me a world of pain when I wake up. I tear myself away from my warm bed and sit back at my desk.
I’m back in the flow writing about gyms and powerlifting and why you — yes, you — need this innovative! new! accessory! in your life.
My phone buzzes. It’s Ben. He’s spending his lunch hour on his afternoon walk and calling to see how my day’s going.
I find this simultaneously endearing and frustrating. Endearing, because I’ve always wanted a man who is sweet and thoughtful. But frustrating, because his thoughtfulness has inadvertently disrupted my train of thought.
We speak for 10 minutes. He senses my frustration and promises to call back in the evening. I file a mental note to make it up to him later by sending a thick shake delivery to his house.
I spend my afternoon decluttering my inbox and sending out invoices. I feel momentarily rich when I tally up the amount until I remember that a pesky thing called taxes is going to chomp away 30% of my paycheque. I trawl the internet trying to find more people I can convince to hire me and my words. I’m tempted to stick a HIRE ME sign on my forehead and make it my new profile picture.
Ding! My prayers have been answered. An old client has slipped back into my inbox with the tantalising offer of new work. Plus — she’s armed with referrals. Her business friends also need help wrangling words and is there any chance I can take them on too? Perfect timing, I type back to her. Very perfect indeed.
I take a brief break by jumping on my phone to scroll through Instagram again. My feed is flooded with influencers from everywhere else in the world, living life and venturing outside. I try to remember what it’s like to eat at a restaurant, curl up on a friend’s couch watching a movie, or hug someone besides my pillow.
Then I think about all the plans and dreams I had for this year that never came to pass. Two trips to Sydney — cancelled. Three of my dear friends’ weddings — cancelled. A beach holiday with Ben’s family — doubly cancelled.
I spend the rest of the day engaging in self-pity. The To-Do list can wait till tomorrow.
I’m back at my desk and logged onto my trusty companion, Zoom. I try to stay away from work in the evenings, but I’d signed on a new client from the UK and this is the only time that works for both our time zones.
Speaking to her fuels my escapism. I can’t help but reminisce back to the time I studied in England and how much fun it was to gallivant around London and Europe. I file a mental note to ask Ben about moving to London with me for a year — although, at this rate, we probably won’t be able to leave the country till 2025.
I lie in bed, scrolling on Instagram. My phone buzzes. It’s Ben again, this time with perfect timing. I ask him if he’d be willing to rent out his house and move to a flat in Notting Hill with me; perhaps one with a blue door that’s within walking distance to a bookstore. He tells me he wants to move to a village in the Netherlands that’s only accessible by boat.
We’re still working out the details.
As I drift off to sleep, it becomes clear that quarantine has given me nothing to do but daydream and overthink. My days are mundane, yet amusing; calm, yet stressful; same, but different. Time to rinse and repeat this tomorrow.