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Amy Roberts: The quarantine chronicles

A few weeks ago, when “quarantine” was still a word we were all just trying on for size and it was not yet part of our daily vernacular, I wasn’t too terribly worried about the weight of its definition. If anything, I figured as a single woman in her 40s, quarantining was something I would excel at. I naively assumed a government-ordered quarantine wouldn’t be that much different from how I already live.

Minus a few cohabiting boyfriends over the years and a roommate here and there, I’ve lived alone the majority of my adult life. And it suits me. I’ve always had a job that demands a lot of social engagement, and by nature I’m an outgoing person, typically bouncing from one interaction to the next. So when I find myself at home at the end of the day, I tend to relish the quiet.

Admittedly, I was not prepared for just how quiet a quarantine is when you live alone. Suffice it to say, I now understand why solitary confinement is considered a severe form of punishment in prison. Choosing to be alone is drastically different than being cut off from human contact. As a species, we are genetically hardwired to seek comfort and connection from other people. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, social interaction and belonging is what we seek soon after the essentials — food, water and shelter — are met. In short, those of us quarantining alone are essentially duking it out with our biological code.

There are countless articles and numerous interviews with experts available on how to navigate quarantine with kids, a spouse, roommates and others one might share a roof with. But there isn’t much advice available for those of us going it alone. After quite a bit of searching, I did find one article that suggested documenting my daily thoughts as a way to cope and measure the ups and downs. The skeptic in me is inclined to believe the author of this article is actually a future anthropologist planning to study a niche group of solo quarantiners and chart their mental decline. Maybe I am doing nothing more than making a contribution to a PhD candidate’s academic research, but for the sake of my own sanity, I decided to give it a go. It looks something like this:

I now understand why solitary confinement is considered a severe form of punishment in prison. Choosing to be alone is drastically different than being cut off from human contact.”

Day 1: Quarantine is going to be good for me. I will use my free time to learn a new language, get organized and self-reflect. Productivity expected to soar.

Day 2: I should really stop licking my finger every time I turn the page in this book.

Day 3: I have enough food to last me 10 days. I will likely be a self-trained five-star chef by the end of this.

Day 4: There is no flour left in this town. Does a pandemic suddenly make everyone gluten tolerant?

Day 5: I am actively giving myself Type 2 diabetes.

Day 6: Last week I was excited to further develop my hobbies. But it turns out, my hobbies consist of going out to eat, spending money on non-essential items and touching my face.

Day 7: The longer this goes on, the harder it’s going to be to return to a world where I’m expected to where a bra.

Day 8: I’m so bored I’m contemplating inviting all my exes to a Zoom meeting.

Day 9: Why does everyone in Europe have a balcony?

Day 10 or March 78th: I want a refund on my 2020 calendar. Knowing the day is no longer of concern to me.

To all my friends: When this is over, invite me anywhere. I promise I will go this time.

I finished Netflix.

Trump is so full of crap, it’s little wonder the country is out of toilet paper.

I’m going to the store to buy squash and I’ll make soup tonight.

I wish I hadn’t blocked all those numbers from telemarketers. I would really love to talk to them right now.

Leaving a butternut squash on someone’s doorstep is a pretty inexpensive way to occupy a portion of their mind forever.

How the hell can I have laundry piled up? I’ve been wearing the same outfit for three days.

I can never again lie to myself about all the things I would do if I only had the time.

Just how good would I have to be at basketball to get tested for coronavirus?

I need to text everyone I know who owns a Peloton and apologize for making fun of them.

Maybe if I develop feelings for COVID-19 it will disappear.

I now understand why my dog sometimes eats a chair when he’s home alone for too long.

It’s always 5 o’clock when you’re quarantined.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.


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