OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.
I am writing earlier than usual because there is little else that I can do right now, apart from wanting to crawl under my winter duvet and not get out until Day Twenty. Or Twenty-One.
Nineteen began with Wild Earth: a rare butterfly, baby elephants, and lionesses covered in blood after a kill. Coffee, some reading, a shower, a white lion on my lovely neighbours’ roof – spotted through my bathroom window.
I did something really stupid and clumsy last night: poured boiling water on my hand. It’s not bad, it could have been much, much worse, but it basically made my left hand super-sensitive to touch. Had to wash dishes this morning and myself under the shower with basically one hand only.
For many years now, I have had a packet of Star Wars plasters in my first aid box. I hardly ever need them for real injuries, and they would definitely not be of any help with the burn on my hand; they are solely there for invisible wounds. Sometimes it helps just to put on a Star Wars plaster anywhere on your body to know that the Force is with you and that all will be well in the end, one day, in a galaxy far, far away.
Two pieces of writing moved me deeply this morning:
I feel honoured to call both these wonderful writers my friends. Reading their words today made me remember – again – what a treasure writing can be, every word a gift of solace and understanding.
I have been thinking about touch a lot since the beginning of the lockdown. It’s not pleasant, but not too difficult, to live without sex for a few weeks, especially if you know how to be creative about it, but to do without a loving touch, without hugs, without kisses – that’s tough. Please read how beautifully Paul writes about this absence in the lives of all of us who cannot be with the people we love.
Then, two quotes from Richard’s piece: “Any way that we can get through this crisis without hurting others or driving ourselves insane seems like a good solution to me.” And: “Heaven is a place where the most soft-spoken people win all the arguments.”
Like a gentle hug, the soft-spoken words of these writers wrap themselves around my soul and keep me safe. Thank you.
It might not have been a good idea to venture out into the world today to do my shopping for the rest of the lockdown while already feeling slightly vulnerable. But my list was ready and I just wanted to get it over with. I drove to the nearest (1.5km) small shopping centre that luckily also has a pet shop. It was wonderful to get into Topolino, but from the moment I left the house, I was apprehensive – the state of my nerves reminded me of facing a difficult conversation or having to pass an exam. I was nervous. A few cars were also on the road in my area, but no real traffic. I had to cross one big intersection, though, and there were three hawkers still selling their fruit and veggies. A traffic cop stood next to me at the red traffic light and then just drove on. I have never seen the parking lot of my small shopping centre so empty, nor have I ever been able to park so near its entrance; what surprised me the most was that there were still three parking attendants at hand, assisting shoppers. Surely the shopping centre could pay them to stay at home? There weren’t many shoppers there, and most were wearing masks, but there was very little respect for the need of physical distancing in the aisles. It took some time to find everything I needed and to manoeuvre around the other trolleys without making much contact. No problem in the queue, but just before me, I saw a nurse from a nearby hospital, with her face mask pulled down around her neck, rubbing her nose with her fingers while she was paying for her groceries at the counter. I was more worried for her than for myself. I left the centre with despair creeping into my heart. I wasn’t even able to enjoy the ride and the views on the way home. I was just extremely relieved to be back home, and I knew that only a crisis will make me leave it anytime soon.
Mozart in one of his nests this afternoon.
I unpacked, washing my hands a million times, my left hand burning like hell in the warm soapy water, but I didn’t care. Fuck dry April: I poured myself a beer and sat a long time with the Cats in the garden, realising – again – that this is going to be our new normal for a long, long time. And it’s only going to get worse.
Today, one of my small, but not irrelevant, income sources dried up. I was told that they would keep my texts on file and publish and pay for them when it was feasible again, but because the texts are book reviews of local titles I decided to give them away for free. It’s not even a drop in the ocean, it’s a speck of dust in the drop in the ocean, but right now I will do anything I can to keep the book industry going, somehow. I am healthy. I have a roof over my head. I am growing potatoes in my garden. There are new lemons on my lemon tree. The Cats can hunt. And I have enough booze to last me through several lockdowns (not even counting the white wine that I keep for my guests only, and you know what they say about desperate times…). Another promising author wants to publish with Karavan Press. And my friend Debbie sent me the most exquisite concept drawings for the cover of a book I hope to publish later this year. I cling to this hope.
Fortunately, the box of my Star Wars plasters is full.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Stay at home.