I do my best thinking in the shower. As the water runs down my face and pools around my feet, I somehow gain a new perspective. Things become clearer. But living alone during the quarantine has meant those moments have become decidedly fewer and farther between. I’ve got no one to see, no one to judge me. It’s like I’ve taken a vacation from my own life. A vacation to someplace that doesn’t have showers.
So my thoughts have been scattered these days. Being trapped in your house means you have nothing but time. You have time to stare at the fuzzy, split ends of your hair in the mirror. You have time to convince yourself that a full-on cut with the kitchen scissors would probably come out OK.
When I lived in Baltimore, I gave my Canadian couchsurfer a haircut. We were drunk and he told me about a new style he would get in the next town he stopped at on his Great American Road Trip. But I told him I could do him one better. I had electric dog clippers and shared his artistic vision. After all, how different really is a poodle when compared with a human head?
This latest effort was fueled not by a combination of shots, mind erasers, and shotgunned beers but by another intoxicant: untamed thought. While equally disorienting, at least I could see through both eyeballs.
The past month and change I’ve been in a constant tug-o-war with my own thoughts. Some days I feel infinite positivity. I have future plans. I’m finally going to nursing school. I’m moving to northern England. A whole world of opportunities will be opening up come January. But even with those concrete plans, I turn around the next day and feel like I’m flailing in inky blackness. I choose to sleep the day away because that is the best possible escape from this endless heap of meaningless time that sits cold on the plate in front of me.
The hardest thing to grapple with is the uncertainty of it all. I can’t predict what next week will look like let alone a month from now. Once I was accepted to the MSc course at Northumbria, I planned to go home in early June and spend the six months before the program started catching up with family and friends. I’d have some time to reset. Pandemics have the tendency to derail plans, though.
My cash flow dries up after my last paycheck at the beginning of June. I have some savings should I need to extend my lease but I had hoped I wouldn’t need to dip into that before the next move. I’ve applied to some remote jobs in the writing/tutoring/advising fields but given the current climate, Indeed informs me even before I click the ad that it’s got many applicants. They’ve all got many applicants.
So I fill my identically stacked hours taking free online courses, learning Norwegian and exploring the bacterial genome. I talk to myself about how it’s possible that this outwardly bruised banana can be so pristine on the inside. I listen to the rain falling on the terracotta roof tiles of the neighboring buildings until 5 am. I curse my lack of easy access to daily fresh bread while simultaneously remembering how good I’ve actually got it.
People keep saying that after this is over, everything will have changed. I’m not sure I believe that. We humans have the tendency to forget painful life lessons on our trek forward. If anything, I can tell that 39 days in my perspective has somehow both changed and stayed the same. Maybe I’ll sort it all out the next time I shower.