It’s been bizarre, intense, frustrating, and a little bit panicky here in quarantine for 14 days.
Especially as it started as soon we landed back in Israel two weeks ago. There was something eery about de-planing into an alternative universe.
Aside from the empty airport… there was a somberness to getting in the taxi van, smiling gingerly at the driver, wiping down the seats, and staring out the window. A grey rainy day. I wondered if this is a tiny percentage of what it feels like to know you’re on your way to prison for a little while. Or at least, house arrest.
A better metaphor is, it’s a little like fasting on Yom Kippur. For a while. Going into it, you know why you’re doing it and for whom and that it ends eventually but it’s going to be uncomfortable – mentally, physically. With kids around.
The kids keep asking their quarantine-induced questions at their own level:
- “Are we going to gan? Is it shabbat? So are we going to gan?”
- “Why do we have to stay inside? Why can’t we see our friends?”
- “If we’re all home like we’re on chofesh, why are you working so hard and all the time?”
The tension and emotions can run high, especially more recently, when it’s just gotten to be… enough. No amount of balcony time or hiding in the ‘other room’ is enough to feel normal. With each additional Zoom call, video conferencing feels more smooth, but it still isn’t normal.
On the second night, I started panicking. Too many COVID-19 data charts? During jetlag? Maybe. But I was feeling tense and my heart was racing because… I realized what being quarantined means. It’s an issue of movement and flow. I mean, I’m American, right?
But the panicking didn’t get worse. I eased into the idea I was in my home, after all, and it’s comfortable, and we have balconies, and more than one bathroom. And the kids are fairly good friends. And me and huz are fairly good friends.
The kids – without much choice really because, also gratefully, we are both working
full overtime – have learned to fend for themselves. Fend off boredom. Figure out making pancakes because I shower and go straight to work. Take a broken table apart for the next art instillation. Take the suggestion to “go read something” because honestly, what else is there to do we’ve done everything else already.
Learn to sew dolls with old clothes I was meant to give away.
I’ve been working way too much. I am grateful that I can, even if it’s not in ideal conditions. When others are not. Or cannot. The work is necessary and intense and urgent. It’s also a filler, a mental puzzle, what keeps me from whispering at the walls. It’s at once one of the most exciting points in my career and at the same time, one of the most emotionally intense, stressful and exhausting.
And, believe it or not, even a socially-hesitant introvert like me starts to miss people, eventually. I have, indeed, begun to miss people.
Plus I have this new appreciation for windows.
The eery feeling from the day we landed has come back a few times.
Yesterday, we were visited by an officer. He was masked, doing his job, checking that we were all accounted for and sticking to the quarantine. Huz opened the door after putting on gloves and a face mask, as you are instructed to when opening your front door (to leave trash bags for the neighbors to take out, to pick up the shopping friends have left).
The officer stood back across the tiny hall and read out our names, peeking inside. Yes, we were all accounted for.
It felt weird. Invasive. Like we are part of a problem.
It also felt comforting.
Today, they checked on us again. I guess they’re not taking chances with Quarantine Day 13. And maybe they were right to – today was rough.
It’s weighing on us. Some of us are losing it more loudly than others. Some are smiling, but their little eyes reveal a sadness, or a fear, connected to not understanding what is going on.
It’s all for the greater good. But it’s going to have an impact forever.