Tomorrow begins my sixth week of sheltering at home, doing my utmost to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, and I am feeling all kinds of different things. It’s a daily and weekly cocktail of emotions, ranging from gratefulness that the majority of my teaching schedule has continued online and guilt that I am not yet struggling financially when so many of my friends and colleagues are, to restlessness from being cooped up in my neighborhood and an intense longing for the human connection of public performing, which may not return in quite the same way until we have a vaccine.
Are you feeling all of those things, too?
At the same time, for the first time in about four years, I’m not exhausted. My regular schedule involves balancing an adjunct university job with a part-time orchestra job, 50 students outside the university, administrative work with a chamber group and with this fine newsletter, and any other gigs I can fit in around all the rest of it. I’m not complaining—I am generously fed by the variety of activities and communities with which I interact in my day to day life, and I need the stimulation of wearing all those different hats to really feel fulfilled.
Still, I find that in quarantine, my body has returned to its natural rhythm. I have time in the early morning and late afternoon to walk in my neighborhood and work in my back garden. I’m reading novels, taking an occasional nap, and enjoying this breathing space created by the finger of the universe sitting on the pause button of society. I am filled with anxiety when I imagine how long it may be before we are all out of the house again, making music with each other and brightening the world with our gifts. And at the same time, I can feel little parts of me that have been pushed to the back burner slipping out to the front again. I’m listening to music I had forgotten that I love, and practicing with no agenda other than the maintenance of my skill set and the joy of playing well. I’m working on a sweater that I’ve been knitting at for over a year, and for once, I’ve labeled every seedling placed in my garden beds. And there is no joy in this time like seeing my sweet students’ faces on FaceTime and Skype when we have our lessons.
I admit that all these feelings are a luxury. I am safe in a strong house with money to provide my basic needs, family to keep me from feeling completely isolated, and work that has continued into a time of vast and terrifying need for so many. I hope we’re out again safely, sometime soon. I miss my network of people, miss sitting in the pew on Sunday morning in quiet contemplation, miss thinking of a household need and running out to fill it. I miss the feeling of togetherness that comes from artistic collaboration and I miss the way I feel competent while successfully navigating my crazy busy schedule. And when we all get back to normal, whatever that looks like, I expect I’ll miss sleeping eight hours each night, the freedom of the time I’m not spending in a car currently, and the restful mind that comes with plenty of time to ruminate, write and plan.
Stay safe, readers. Stay safe, stay healthy, and cling to the hope of healing and better days to come. We will all be together again.
How are you staying sane in quarantine? Leave a comment and share with us, friends.
Jessica, thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. This is one of the most beautifully written reflections on the “daily and weekly cocktail of emotions” I too am coping with deep in my heart. Yes, absolutely I am feeling just about every single one of the things you mention.
After this has subsided and people are able to gather together again, I’m hoping there will be a reinvigorated appreciation for the arts, live performances and connecting in-person through conversations and shared experiences again out in the world.
I’m looking forward to getting back to some of the best aspects of our shared humanity.
With all wishes for health, while sheltering at home as much as possible and staying supportive and connected with friends, family and colleagues.