Isolation Diary: Weeks 2, 3…105 – Nikitah

The days and weeks blur into one as my body clock struggles to adjust to the eternal recess we are living in. I have a series of productive Mondays, until there’s a shift and suddenly it’s five long, lazy Sundays which pass in quick succession. I alternate between these two stages like the ticking hands of a metronome, one that is slightly out of sync with my usual routine, not quite managing to find a balance.

Sunday

Maybe I should start wearing a watch again. My mother suggests I add a coat atop my PJ uniform, exit the front door, walk along the side of the house and re-enter through the back. A carriage-less shuttle to the kitchen, complete with shoes. I doubt being outfitted in such a way would increase my productivity. All it seems to have done is cause a toe infection on my left foot. Perhaps I should have worn socks. I instead put on a pair of jeans to stop myself lying on the sofa. It doesn’t work and I find myself still sprawled across it when my mother returns from her supermarket outing. Alas, they were out of eggs.

Sunday

Each day I open my blinds, stare out of the window and tell myself this will be the day I get out of bed early to exercise. It never is. The soundtrack to the week(s) has been Dua Lipa’s long awaited new album. It plays over the speakers in my bedroom, playful chants creating a beat to drive my life forward with each lyric I sing along to. The underlying narrative relates to having sex with her boyfriend (go, girl) which, in this current climate of distant isolation, isn’t helping.

At the end of the day I do a quick search on YouTube. I learn how to close my blinds, a deft pull of the string at an angle I have previously never been able to master. I go to bed with a vague sense of accomplishment, ready to reopen them slightly earlier because tomorrow will be the day I go for a morning walk. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)

Sunday

My father is not a religious man, but sombrely he tells me he did a prayer at work today (he works in the NHS.) On his way to the car in the evening, he observes a woman laying empty egg cartons on her doorstep. A Land Rover pulls up. Out emerges a man, arms laden with eggs. As he fills up her containers, my father (from a distance) says hello. The man comes from the local farm and tells my father he need only ring to place an order and fresh eggs will be delivered to his workplace. As the news is relayed to me this evening, I thank the egg fairies for hearing my plea. “Our prayers have been answered!” I declare in triumph. “I wasn’t praying for eggs,” he replies.

Monday

I sit in my bedroom chair, upholstered in pink velvet, an internet impulse-buy before the lockdown began, and I am very grateful to have somewhere to sit and work. I ‘work from home’ every Tuesday, but these last few weeks I have been in solidarity with the vast majority of the population who are now doing the same. Working freelance means that unlike many of my commute-to-the-sofa counterparts, the future of my employment has been rendered uncertain.

I try to put this to the back of my mind as I refresh my inbox and begin this week’s additional opportunity; a social media research report for a men’s shirt and boxer short retailer. These are business buzzwords used to establish credibility to my employment when I now explain that it means I spent 8 hours looking at underwear models on Instagram. #hustle.

Sunday

Today is my father’s birthday. After the (half) vegan cake debacle during my mother’s birthday last week, he’s not taking any chances. He heads to Sainsbury’s this morning since he has the day off, and returns a few hours later, chocolate cake and tub of single cream in hand. It is also my parents’ wedding anniversary, a date I think was tactically chosen by my mother so as to prevent my father from ever forgetting when they wed. True love.

Monday

At 7.56pm my mother steps out onto the drive, ready to start the applause. Across the street, a neighbour emerges, armed with her dressing gown. In the house next to hers, a child is doing cartwheels on the lawn. The couple adjacent to us begin to clap loudly. The family from a few doors up cash in their daily exercise and run down the road, cheering loudly as they do. There are faces in windows, waving and whistling.

Sabrina across the road shouts that she has spare tins of food going; Rod next door jokes that he’s getting his wheelbarrow ready. The sky is dark but the street is lit up with a charge of energy not seen since the jubilee street party of 2012. My father sticks his head out of the front door and raises his hand. “Thanks, everyone!”

An illustration of 8 tessellating yellow hands in a row. The hands are covered in stickers and small illustrations of blue palm leaves, a pirate flag, toilet roll and the letter "C" indicting the COVID-19 situation.

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