Dispatches from Quarantine, Part 2

by Cate Mahoney

Hello, world! I hope this finds you safe and sound and keeping a level head for as much of the daytime and nighttime hours as you can. Here in New York City, we’re finally leveling off the curve of the virus, but I expect we’ll be staying in quarantine for much, much longer to make sure we keep it that way.

I don’t know about you, but the days are blurring together for me. I try to keep a routine of when I wake up, take the dog out, and try to get a bit of exercise inside or out, if I can stay far enough away from people. If it’s a sunny day, there’s still too much of a chance of crowds in Central Park for me to feel comfortable or safe.

It was my birthday last week, and I had my first virtual birthday party with some close friends. We used Zoom: with cocktail in hand, they each toasted me and sang “Happy Birthday,” and, at my request, we even watched a movie together! My pick for the night was Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation. In a crisis, I just want to watch Tom Cruise run around and save the world: very simple, very silly, very fun. Considering the number of people who were watching the movie on my computer (sharing my screen!), it went off without a hitch. I felt loved and supported by my people, and I missed them the next day—post-birthday blues, as I’m sure you have experienced. I felt it even more intensely in isolation.

In our state, we’re supposed to be wearing masks when we go outside. In the absence of any available for purchasing, I sewed one! I followed a guide in The New York Times. We had some cotton fabric in the house and, after a few failed attempts, voila!

In these crazy times we crave connection and communication and need to seek them out in new ways. Even wearing my mask to walk the dog, I say hello to people—I look for a kind eyebrow-raise, a warm eye-crinkle. My smile may be hidden, but I hope they know it’s there. I’m reading body language more than I used to—and learning that connecting with my friends in a video call comforts me more than I thought it would.