Whaddyadoallday? Real Life on a Desert Island Rotating Header Image

Alone Again

As of noon today, I will have personally been sheltering in place for four weeks. I trust you are all now doing the same so you know the drill.

Obviously, we are supremely fortunate in our version of quarantine. While we do not have the convenience of grocery delivery and Amazon, we do have too much house. Plenty of fresh air. Beautiful blue skies. A lovely sea view. Comfortable swimming pool. And the opportunity to go walking on a beach if our bad backs allow. This island has even managed, so far, to limit our cases of Covid-19 to 3– fingers crossed.

If not for the surrounding miasma (sorry I love that word) of stress, life here would be its usual nirvana. But there is stress, of course. And plenty of it. And for me, at least, the deja vu nature of this experience has turned out to be most profound. At first blush, any comparison to being decimated by Hurricane Irma might seem forced, but not in my mind. There are differences, to be sure. But there are far more similarities.

As far as I can tell, the biggest difference is just that this time it isn’t only us. After Irma, there was comfort (if also jealousy) in knowing that most of the rest of the world was going on just the same without us. Not so this time. And there is absolutely no comfort at all in knowing that the entire world is in this particular crisis together.

On the other hand, much is the same. In both circumstances there was the dreadful fear of the arrival of the enemy. For Irma that involved a few very high-intensity days of meteorological tracking. For Covid it was and actually continues to be an unsettled, uncertain, anticipation….like waiting for a Jack-in-the-Box to spring. This time the fear waxes and wanes but never really goes completely away. Some day I know I will meet Covid. I just don’t want it to be now.

In both cases, there was the panic of the sudden isolation. And I am not talking about the staying home part. That came later. I am talking about being cut off from the rest of the world. Acutely and traumatically by Irma vs. purposely as the ports were defensively closed against Covid. Nevertheless, the panic was in the not knowing what that would mean. Would food and supplies arrive? What if we got sick? Or “just” injured? And we couldn’t get away? In both cases, there was even a bit of the Miss Saigon last plane out situation as folks chartered planes after Irma and when the U.S. State Department arranged repatriation flights out after everything was closed here because of Covid. Should we stay or should we go? Always the question. Never a clear answer. But in both cases, we stayed.

After Irma, there was the shock and awe at the devastation and then the long slog through recovery and back to normal. In the midst of Covid, there is only the slog – endless hours filled with yard work and housework. Plenty of things that one could be doing but nothing that is particularly urgent. One day being just like another with no end in sight. There is only today. And tomorrow and the next day. No planning for anything else because how could we then? How can we now?

We were/are personally isolated. After Irma isolated from everyone outside of Anguilla. Oddly those people are now the easier ones to connect with….in the distanced ways that we always have (thanks to still having electricity in this tragedy). We can still call and email and now even Zoom. In those relationships, not much has changed…except maybe that we reach out more in this shared experience.

On the other hand, in this Covid reality, we are far more isolated from everyone else on this little 14 mile-long island. That is somehow even more unnerving. We have no near, let alone immediate, neighbors. Nobody. Nada. Nothing. We can’t even see any of our friends’ houses from the tippy top of our roof. We certainly aren’t close enough to throw a rock or a song or even a driveway cocktail party their way.

After Irma, the world was completely dark. I will always remember the one red beacon light shining on the top of St. Maarten to the south while everything else was black. Now, with Covid, a tree could fall in my virtual forest and nobody else would be anywhere near enough to hear it.

Yes, Irma and Covid are very, very similar in my mind.

Be safe. Be well. Until we meet again.

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