Operation Oysterhood: 10 June

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

Numb. That’s how I feel. Perhaps this is what one needs to survive a pandemic. But I also continuously experience this numbness as a loss. In the last few days, I found out that someone who is very dear to me got engaged on another continent and is truly happy because she has found her place in the world and a person she loves to share it with – but I haven’t congratulated them yet. I also found out that someone I care deeply about has had an addition (one, not ten!) to the family, but I haven’t found time and headspace yet to phone the family. People I love are getting vaccinated; every day more and more people I know get their jab. Yesterday, a friend phoned to say that he was dying of cancer. And today my love had his medical check-up and his doctor was very happy with the progress since that fateful morning when we ended up in the ICU a little bit over a month ago. I take it all in, apart from all else that is going on, and for a moment I feel real, deep emotion – either elation or despair – and then it all returns to a kind of vacuum of feeling, a numbness, because it is simply all too much to process or to react to appropriately. Because all of it is happening while the world is going through the severe, ongoing, relentless trauma of trying to stay alive and somehow surviving against the odds.

And all I can really do – self-isolating because of exposure to the potentially lethal virus – is compartmentalise, make lists of things to do, go through them carefully while knowing I will forget something essential anyway, and walk around the house and garden, smelling and tasting things just to make sure that I still can. (No worrying symptoms detected.) And then loadshedding comes along and eventually, I just sit in the dark with The Cats sleeping around me, and stare into space.

I have discovered that I have all kinds of leftovers in the fridge and some dry pasta and pesto and other strange groceries that will actually keep me happy for a few days. But the cat food I need to feed The Cats, especially Salieri right now (who is not allowed to lose more weight), I did not have much of because I was still planning to go shopping yesterday when I heard that I had to self-isolate. I tried ordering online, but the shop’s credit card facility did not function and processing the order via EFT would have postponed the delivery until after the weekend, so I just forwarded the order to a friend who lives nearby and she went to the shop directly and delivered the food to us this afternoon. Our superhero of the day.

My friend who has Covid-19 and who I was in close contact with just before her diagnosis wrote this morning to say that she was sorry about what she’d ’caused’. But she didn’t! It wasn’t her. It is this horrible virus – unpredictable and uncontrollable because of its still largely unknown nature. I told her that there is nothing she needs to feel sorry about.

All I care about is that she recovers quickly and that I do not pass anything on to anyone else, not knowingly. And right now, I know I have been exposed and that I could pose a danger to others, so isolation it is.

I had a dream last night that I was standing in a queue at an Austrian pharmacy, begging to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but nobody was willing to help me … Dr Freud would know exactly what to say.

Today, I have harvested the next ‘batch’ of my oyster mushrooms – i.e. just one. Perfect, I suppose, if you can’t share anything with anyone anyway.

My love and I saw each other on Skype tonight.

And did I mention that Karavan Press is going to publish another poetry collection? By someone whom I hardly know personally, but whose creative work I have admired for a long time and with whom I share weird, ancient, literary ties that reach back to the Sestigers. All was written in the stars before we were born.

It’s all a rollercoaster. Occasionally, it all stops in the dark. Thank you, Eskom?

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”


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