Five months of (mild) isolation

Today marks five months since I began my COVID19 isolation at my countryside cottage. During Month One and Month Two, my isolation was just that: Isolating (but I coped)! Month Three began as a very isolating experience, but towards the end of the month, a friend and his dog came out to walk around the estate with me. And from the start of Month Four, I began to slowly venture further and further from home for walks on the beaches and hills around Midlothian and East Lothian, sometimes with a friend.

However, throughout these five months, I remain relatively isolated as compared to most, so I will continue with that theme here on Just Frances – in part because it will help me to categorise my musings for later. [Note: I have often said that this site is first and foremost an outlet for me, so I make no apologies for sharing mundane rubbish that others might not be interested in reading.]

During Month Five of my isolation, I have found myself feeling more and more frustrated with the situation. Where early in the isolation process I felt like I was part of a global movement of “staying home”, I am now more and more aware that most of the world is now venturing out into the real world. This is even more so when I look at the lives my family and friends in America are living.

People are mixing and mingling with other humans. They are shopping and eating out in restaurants. They’re going to pubs and museums and people-y beaches. From the safety of my rural cottage, I watch stories online of others who are travelling for holidays and meeting friends for coffee – and I am envious of stories of haircuts and eyebrow waxes!

Yet here I am, at home. (Mostly.) Whilst I do have friends that I enjoy occasional walks with, I am not really participating in the world. I am living in a bubble.

Of course, I am also keenly aware of the COVID19 spikes that are happening in areas where there are a lot of people mixing and mingling. In fact, many places are going backwards and locking down again. But I feared this would happen, which is why I’ve decided to continue (mostly) isolating.

However, last week, during an adventure day out to Hailes Castle, I finally entered a building other than my home or the home of my (COVID-sensible) friend. Yes, I went into a little sweetie shop that was just opening and devoid of customers. I was in the shop for less than five minutes (I purchased three kinds of candy; yum), but I think it still counts as dipping my toes back into society.

It was an odd feeling that left me with a sense of disquiet. I imagine that this might be how others felt early in the lockdown when they were just getting used to the new normal. But for me, my first experience was after “the rest of the world” had already started to create the new social norms. And as someone who has always studied human behaviours before jumping in, I was able to glean at least some of the new social interaction practices by merely watching others. And that helped a bit, but I think more observation is required!

In two weeks’ time, I will have to attend an in-person doctor’s appointment with my nephrology team (I have to make sure Bob and Dave are keeping well). I will have to take public transportation to get there and back, and that is likely going to mean taking two buses and travelling for approximately 90 minutes each way. I also expect that I will be in the clinic for about an hour (depending on what “COVID secure” measures they have in place). This means that I can expect to be wearing a mask for about 4 hours.

At this point, it’s been more than 5 months since I’ve been on public transport, so I am a bit nervous about that. But I have to recognise that this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and I can’t hide away forever (and still keep my sanity).

As for the next five months, it’s not looking much better. Indeed, it is quite likely that I will be working from home through the end of the year (or longer?) and I will be largely isolating at home during that time, too. However, I am looking at the possibility of escaping for a few days if I can find a safe and affordable self-contained cottage to rent out for a little holiday. It will just be a matter of finding a place that I can get to easily.

And so, tomorrow will start Month Six of my Great COVID19 Isolation. It won’t be long before I’ve spent half the year hiding from the world, and I am fearful that it might be a full year before I’m done. So… stay tuned to find out when (or if) the isolation gets the better of me!

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