Musings on Day 37 of Lockdown

I am in Marrakech for the lockdown for a number of reasons, but mostly because I have a home here and not in Canada right now. I’m not sure when I’ll have a home there or what my plans will be in the summer and I’m mentally and financially preparing for a 14 day isolation there in an unknown location if I’m able to return in June. Not sure.

At this moment, I have been “inside” for 37 days and we have another 31 more to go. By “inside” I mean that we are well and truly locked down. Masks are mandatory when outside our homes, and we need a stamped letter with us to make necessary trips for groceries or the pharmacy. Or the pet store. Because I have a foster puppy with me and sometimes I need supplies for him.

Here is where I’ve been and where I am currently at:

Overall, I was built for this. I have lived alone for hundreds of years and I have been working through being alone vs being lonely for the better of 3 centuries.

I still remember back to my days at corporate office when I would get a lump in my throat and slight panic on Friday’s at 5 pm, knowing that I was going to be going into isolation for the weekend and probably not interacting with other humans for 36 hours. I would normally tear up on long weekends from the overwhelm. I sometimes still feel that panic like tightening in the chest when I’m starting to feel lonely, but mostly I’m fine. I know how to do this and I know how to manage and I know what I need.

I have moved to new places alone before. From Hamilton to Boston, home to Banff, Banff to Victoria, Victoria to Toronto, Toronto to Calgary, and back, and Toronto to Morocco. I’m ok. I worry a lot about others who may not be fairing so well. I worry for those who are locked down in bad situations, or even in good situations but who can’t find a moments’ peace. I worry for others. But I’m fine. I can manage. I have money, food, a huge apartment, a puppy, a place to walk, friendly people just a shout away, and help if I need it. I’m fine.

The first month:
– I was a little sad that everything went away and that travel was off the table.
– I was super sad that business evaporated and worried for when it might return.
– I was anxious to get outside every day, to not feel boxed in, to touch the ground, to see the sky, to get a larger perspective. To go to the grocery store and get out to do errands and go to bank and see the empty streets.
– I was super worried about what was happening in Canada and the time it was taking for my comrades to come to grips with what was happening. Worried they might not be locking down enough, fast enough. Worried that things would be bad there. Worried that people weren’t getting the right messages and following the rules. (I’m a rule follower.)
– I enjoyed every human interaction I could find and I savored a quick chat or a hello in English.
– I filled my schedule with Zoom calls and chats so I would be able to stay in touch with people who never reached out in all the lonely ass hours over the last 4 years while I sat here isolated by choice, by distance, by language.
– I gave myself a lot of slack and I rearranged my home to be more “fully occupied” knowing that no one would be coming in or out and it was only me here for a really long time.
– I rearranged my office 3 times and never once sat at my desk to get down to work.
– I had sweeping waves of grief for my lost niece and that surprised me. A lot.
– I never went to bed during the day. Not even to read a book, which I used to do a lot in The Before. I made the living room my world, the balcony my cottage, my bedroom a place of rest, and my office, apparently off limits.

Social media was ablaze with all the things that were meant to change. With people baking and cooking and telling us it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to process the trauma of it all. Do your workouts at home. It’s ok to get grey hair, or to get fat. (Trust me when I tell you that fat people are offended by that crap.) (Its not ok to be an asshole.) We were all just working through “it”. Trying to understand. Trying to figure out how to be. Anticipating a deep and great change that would take place. But really? Because I just didn’t feel like the assholes would stop being assholes and the if you had eyelash extensions before you would probably have them after. I mean, I hope you all support small businesses, if they survive. But I wasn’t real confident in all this talk of change.

The first month for me was just day to day to day. Each day either good or bad. Each day busy with things I can’t name or point to. Each day a passing of time and an attempt to keep in touch with the ones I love and worried about most, a gathering of sustenance, and trying as hard as I might to focus on one damn thing for more than 10 minutes.

I didn’t accomplish much and I did read FAR too many comments on the Internet.

The change came with the announcement of the new lockdown. I knew it was coming and for at least a week I was feeling really anxious about it and I didn’t know why. It was similar to the feeling of recognizing you have a pimple brewing and then watching it fester and become sore. Even before the decision was made, once I came to terms with the fact that we were in for another month, and that pimple finally burst, I started to feel the change coming on.

Now, and hopefully for the next month:

– I really feel a sense of live and let live. I see people in the courtyard all clumped together without masks, playing cards and exercising, and I do feel disappointed that they don’t seem to understand, but neither do I. Do what you want. I’m choosing to follow the guidelines and if you can’t – that’s on you.
– I don’t read the comments anymore. I turn the off when I can and if I find myself going down the rabbit hole I stop. I won’t do it. I’m not reading the comments anymore.
– I am building a schedule that includes daily exercise where before I wasn’t managing. It includes daily focus on the future and building new things. It includes working towards something solid and tangible.
– I am staying in more and more. I am choosing not to go to the grocery store unless I absolutely must, but to get delivery instead and use my local hanout for supplies.
– I am becoming more comfortable with feeding myself 3 healthy meals a day. Most of time it’s very simple and almost all of the time its nutritious and delicious.
– I am reading one book and I’m going to move on to the next when I’m finished because I am safe and I am in a great situation I am enormously grateful for my lot in life. I can focus on things and pass the time meaningfully instead of indulging the fear.
– Although there is still fear and worry. Of course. But today, right now, in this moment, I am safe and I am happy.
– I am putting my phone down more and not jumping to respond to messages. I am not engaging at the window every time I see a human being, and really – I’m not reading the comments. Because I am safe and content here.

I have noticed that when my mind wanders to the outside, it wanders to Morocco. To the Ourika Valley and Tangier. To Dahkla and the Medina. To beautiful villas in the countryside. But it wanders to Morocco and I find that fascinating.

I find that I can take a walk through so many of the places I have been and enjoy the streets and sights and sounds again. I think of The Hague which is a city I loved so much. And I think of my home in Canada. I often take a walk along the creek in Canmore in my mind. Often. I savor those memories and experiences.

I am feeling very open and hopeful with this coming month. I feel like this is the month where the work is going to get done. Where I am really going to choose how I want to re-enter the new world. I feel like this is the month where change is all around us. I feel enormously at peace. I feel hopeful for a new way forward.

When this is over, I really hope to return to Canada. I hope to spend a few months there, and then come back to a whole and well Morocco and re-start the business in a meaningful and thoughtful way, just as we had been doing before.

And also, truth be told, the person I look forward to seeing the most is my cleaning lady. Then I will go for a manicure, a haircut and lunch with every single one of my beautiful friends in Marrakech.

I am so looking forward to those things. But in good time. For now, I’m safe, I have what I need, and I am enormously grateful for all of that.