Quarantine Part 1
It’s taking a long time for the sun to hit my window today n make the telly too reflective to watch. after i got to the point where it felt like I’d seen everything on youtube, I started Riverdale. I like the lipstick but that’s all I have to say for now, I dunno if it’s that good. But I can’t concentrate to be honest. Feel like I can do things but can’t think things. Everyone on the internet is posting hot-takes, essays, criticising the powers that be, and organising these creative and independent ways to support one another, but i am over here feeling like the crumbs that are left to burn at the bottom of the toaster. what I can do is listen to the kids over the road play swingball every morning, that’s easy; n I can watch the small dog in the house next to them walk triangles in the front garden - he has his own pattern from door to tree to gate. He keeps looking up to my window. I can also drink water, been drinking so much water. I drink a litre when I wake up, a litre over lunch and a third more slowly over the rest of the day. never drank so much in my life. I don’t know how I used to function on such little amounts tbh, how I was not so crispy like a leaf. Everyone else is organising mutual aid and putting on their discourse hats but i am a bit stuck because I feel like I’m already at a wake.
I live with my Nan and my uncle, and my Nan has carers coming into the house four times a day and once at night. They provide medical and personal care, things we don’t know how to do. The company they are under (connected to the city council) does not have the money or the mind to give them protective clothing so that they don’t get sick or pass the virus onto their clients. And these carers, pure heroes, continue to put themselves at risk to complete their work because they feel that much loyalty to the families they look after - u kno, despite being low paid, working 12 hour shifts, and being disrespected by a hierarchy of care in this country that means PPE is going straight to hospital workers with nothing left for them. carers are mostly women, many women of colour, and while lots of jobs can be done from home in isolation, they are still going house to house to feed people, wash and dress them, give them their medication, change catheter bags, use winches to get them out of bed, and literally make people feel better in their bodies everyyyy single day of the year. The houses that have carers visiting them cannot isolate; we are not watertight, airtight, anything-tight, and we can’t do anything about it. That’s where my head’s at, all open-ended and still. to speak plainly, I’m sat here waiting for my Nan to get coronavirus, for my uncle to get it, for me to get it, for the carers to get it too. i can’t concentrate on emails or figuring out how to access financial support because this all feels like a death sentence, like, really there is nothing we can actually do. My 2018 therapist would say i am catastrophising but Glen, this <is> a catastrophe. i know loads of people are in the same position as we are, un-rich and unable to get what we need to make sure we all survive. i know others are alone in small box rooms in shared accommodation away from people they love. high-risk people too tender and scared to go down to the shop for food, but no supermarket delivery dates in sight for weeks. I know people are in London, New York, Spain and Italy, and i know how many of us are out of work, blindsided, and dreading these daily overlord announcements. and then there’s my Nan, just lying there in a pink nightie watching The Chase, eating grapes and then forgetting she’s eating grapes, and telling me to stop worrying because it will do me no good. You have to laugh.
My anxiety-belly has been terrrrrrible which is funny given the whole toilet paper thing; and my sleep pattern has shifted to early morning wake-ups because I think it is too easy to be sad at night. just been drinking my water, crying it back out my eyes, and thinking about how long it will take for corona to get here; checking the BBC news page for ‘confirmed cases in your area’ like i’m waiting for my uber, staying in today for an asos delivery between 10-11am. Last monday the no. of confirmed cases in Liverpool was 11, 12 days later it’s at 75, and when I looked today (the day after that) it was 132. Lol. Maybe we will get out of this unscathed, who knows, but i am personally full of dread. everything I am saying here is coming off cold but I don’t want to go back and decorate what I’m writing, this isn’t some weepy text exercise n it shouldn’t be. I thought I should write about quarantine for history, and for my own history maybe, but I can’t hold the whole shape of this text in my head like I normally can.
It’s strange because we are only at the beginning of the film. We’re the family before the war of the worlds aliens land and start screaming at nothing through the air; sandra bullock painting in her studio before bird box black magic kills everyone around her. feels in and out, past my fingertips, low volume, a bit silly. i’ve had to furlough myself from my day job, but i am relieved to have an online job I can still do here on the white pube. Our freelance work has been cancelled, but for me it’s not the end of the world: I buy food but living here with my family I don’t pay rent, and that’s privileged. but this static electricity between people is palpable, like if you have something I don’t have I feel fear, and if I have something you don’t have I feel guilt. we have always been able to see the edges of our own situations but now everybody else’s is becoming transparent in these instagram posts from inside their fancy houses. and still, right now, for me, all of it is background because I can’t stop thinking about death! My oldest cousin lives in Lombardy, the worst hit region of Italy. We speak every day n all he can hear outside his window are ambulances. 3 weeks ago their lockdown started; 2 weeks ago they clapped medical workers; n when I speak to him it’s across time, like he is the ghost of corona past. If only the government were stricter sooner; if only they valued our lives over the economy. I get so angry thinking about how much I hate the rich, especially celebrities; how we made them that money and now they won’t help us in return. One minute i’m fine and then I remember summer is coming and we are all locked inside running out of money and trying not to die.
A tall Irish nun normally visits on Sundays to give my Nan communion out of this small silver box, but she can’t come right now and neither can our massive family who usually invade the place on weekends. I was wondering what to do about it, about the emptiness and about the Nun, and on tuesday I tweeted asking if anybody knew a priest who would be up for a video call. a few people got back to me which was cool, and the next day we had a call lined up with a hospital chaplain all the way down in London who was nice enough to take the time. I leaned my phone on my Nan’s cup and gave him a ring, and I stood next to her while he repeated hail marys and other words and wishes. My Nan tried her best to speak them at the same time, but her words kept stopping and starting like the connection. She enjoyed it, couldn’t believe he was in London, and said she’d never done anything like this before. And at the end of the call, he told us that it was the traditional feast day for the angel gabriel, god’s messenger, and so wasn’t it fitting that I, gabrielle, had organised this for my Nan. i think it’s spoooooky, holy, weird and good. It lifted my spirits and I wondered if that was a coincidence or if God was real. Called my mum to tell her about it. Messaged my cousins too. Told Instagram because I was excited. And then lay back on my bed and thought about that person who drank so much water they accidentally drowned, so i rolled over and cracked open a can of coke instead.
the hand sanitiser my uncle tied to the bannister using one of my ribbons so the carers have something to use