I thought I was clever for paying homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera in the title of one of my recent posts. Shortly after, I realized I was not the only one using that headline and I was in fact, not that clever. I picked up another of Garcia Marquez’s books in the Buenos Aires airport in a rare respite on my frantic way home from Patagonia to the United States. Along with LITTOC, 100 Years of Solitude is Garcia Marquez’s most famous novel, and again, a pretty fitting title for many of us as we sit in quarantine.
I was able to make it to my parents’ house in a tiny town in the heart of the American Midwest. Despite having a big family with four siblings, my parents, and two dogs, I have been completely isolated from them for the past two weeks. I decided that it was the safest bet, having gone through 5 airports and 4 flights through 3 different countries on my journey home. Although I haven’t shown any symptoms, we all thought it best not to risk it, especially since a sizable chunk of the infected population are asymptomatic.
In Iceland, they did wide testing for coronavirus and found that around half of people who tested positive for coronavirus were asymptomatic. The only coughing I’ve done in the last two weeks were when I was racing through the Panama City airport to catch a flight. 41 minute layover? It seemed doable until my plane landed 43 minutes late. I got on the plane sweating and out of breath, and with the aura of xenophobia towards Asians at this time, I felt very much in the spotlight.
The Dutch dude I was sat next to thankfully knew the situation well, as he had been told that he couldn’t board the flight because he wasn’t allowed to enter the United States. 30 minutes before his flight, he and his friends were told that the airport employees were wrong and that they were allowed to board the flight after all. It’s weird thinking back to those anxiety-filled misadventures of trying to get home. No one knew anything, and a few weeks later, not much has changed. We are still living in such a weird time of uncertainty, one that is quite frankly pretty exhausting.
Today is my last day of my 14-day quarantine in my parents’ basement. Basement is not really the word to describe it. Although it is gloomy and freezing cold, I have a big TV, all my gaming systems, my bedroom still intact, and a random arsenal of things to keep me busy. In the past two weeks, I’ve invented a game of beer pong that involves golf clubs. I’ve sketched out ideas for how to exploit my family members for Tik Toks once I am finally able to interact with them again. I have done a bit of writing and photo editing, but for the most part, my days have been spent in the fictional world of Red Dead Redemption 2.
I was immediately hooked by One Hundred Years of Solitude, but as soon as RDR2 finished downloading, I was hooked on that even more. The game is one of the most immersive and beautiful art forms that I’ve experienced. It feels like I’ve basically gone from exploring the wild terrains of Patagonia in real life to at least having a taste of that same adventure through a video game. I can even take photos in this game, and despite the purpose being looting and shooting in the Wild West, I’ve mostly been camping and taking photos.
Hey, it’s nice to find a sense of normalcy in these abnormal times. No one has really lived through anything like this before, and although I’m rolling with the punches, it has been mentally draining. Every moment I waste in quarantine feels like a moment of my life that I’m letting slip away. I’ve been traveling for the large majority of the past four years. I’ve only gone home under tragic circumstances, such as a breakup that would put telenovelas to shame, the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, and now, Coronavirus.
I’ve been used to living fast and moving quickly. These two weeks at home have flown by and I have very little to show for it. Two weeks of travel could be enough to see an entire country. It is a very weird feeling, having nothing to do but so much time to do it. For the past four years, it has been the complete opposite. Every day, you just wish it was an hour or two longer so you could squeeze out as much of life as possible as you can from every day.
Now, I’m having trouble sleeping because I feel like I’m not doing enough with my days. Last night, I slept at 8… in the morning. The sun was already rising and I was still trying to find ways to feel like another day had not been wasted. Seriously, watching Netflix has become a task for me. It feels like I am forcing myself to consume pop culture just so I can say that I’ve done something more than nothing for the day. I’ll start my workouts at 11 PM just because I haven’t hit my step goal. Last night, I found a binder full of random scraps of paper that I’ve kept from my travels and had them all taped or pinned to my door within an hour. Literally, anything to keep me busy.
I thought it would be nice to slow down for a bit but this is the issue that I always have once I get home from a lengthy trip. I don’t know how to slow down. My restlessness is only amplified by how trapped I feel, something that we must all be feeling right now. These are strange times, and for those of us that are lucky, strange is all they will be. These are terrifying and deadly times for some, and I count myself lucky that I have the time and freedom to complain about being bored.
I’ve watched a lot of tone-deaf celebrities and influencers post mind-numbing content about how we are all struggling and promoting unity at this time, all the while not even knowing a glimpse of how much others are struggling out there. Your collab with 8 other travel influencers to hold up pieces of paper telling people to stay at home is going to fix everything! And so is dropping a video of you singing Imagine with dozens of other celebrities from your mansions. We don’t always have to give unwarranted advice or have an opinion on every little thing. Sometimes, it’s best to say nothing at all, you feel?
I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks so this is literally just a ramble which is a product of my boredom. Something many of us can relate to as we continue to find ourselves trying to navigate completely uncharted territory.
I have no preachy words to say aside from hang in there. I don’t know what each one of us is going through, so I can only share my experiences and my thoughts from my bubble. Everyone is coping with this differently and one of my main problems right now is comparing myself to others. When I am traveling, I am living my life how I want and I am happy. I have no time or concern to worry about what others are doing and what they might think of me. A lot of us feel this way when we are doing something we are passionate about, or something that makes us feel in our element. We get a sort of tunnel vision where only us and our goals and our happiness matter.
I’ve long since stopped comparing myself to others and trying to wonder how they perceive me from their lenses. But now, there is literally nothing to distract me from other peoples’ lives and comparing myself to them. I think many of us have found that we have no choice but to feel like we are on the outside looking in, or inside looking out in this case. A lot of us are doing nothing, especially me, a now-unemployed travel writer who is doing no traveling, and has found himself in a small town in the middle of nowhere where he has no friends or any outlet for his creativity or passions. It is hard for me to be content with doing nothing, especially when I log on to Instagram or Twitter and see people doing literally something. And I mean anything.
I can’t relate to everyone’s struggles, but for those feeling similarly, just put the damn phone down. This is something I need to do, also. Do not let other people feel like you aren’t doing enough just because you haven’t found the motivation or encouragement to start some new hobby or make money off a side hustle just yet. Cope with this the way that you want. It seems like everyone is exercising or baking or doing puzzles or painting or learning new instruments and languages and skills. And sharing and sharing and sharing all of it on every social media outlet If that is what you want to do, then absolutely more power to you!! I admire people taking advantage of this new way of life to find fulfilling ways to pass the time. And I also admire people who don’t! If you don’t want to do any of that and just want to take care of yourself how you want to, then prioritize that.
Don’t let what others are doing dictate how you feel about yourself, not just right now, but ever. But especially not right now. The shit that’s going on right now has literally never happened before. A lot of us need time to accept and adjust to lives that have turned completely upside-down. You can’t have lost all sense of normalcy and then expect to start learning how to play the ukulele the next day. Don’t sweat it and hang in there. Hopefully, if we all do our part for our shared humanity, we will get through this sooner rather than later.
And stay the f*ck home.