Conversation In Isolation IV
I’ve been here a while now. Disease-free. At least I believe I am. I have none of the usual symptoms, but the virus has a different effect on people I have heard. Some don’t even know they have it. Others need to be put on oxygen, lose their ability to walk, can’t catch a good breath even after they’ve survived it. Only the sick are tested. And so we huddle, a fearful nation, cowering before a microscopic organism that, unlike a conventional enemy, cannot be reasoned with, cannot be seen with the naked eye, and has no known lethal counterattack.
I feel like I’m in a sci-fi movie and I’m one of the few who has escaped a ruthless and deadly killer stalking the cities, leaving half-dead bodies gasping for breath in its wake. And somehow I have outrun it and live far from its reach.
That’s the illusion.
In reality, I know it travels through the air. It travels the wind currents. From our breath. Our coughs. Maybe it lingers on hard surfaces waiting for the unprotected hand to touch it, leaping from the surface to the skin, waiting for the host of the hand to put a finger in their mouth, or eye or nose, where it dives into the fluids and travels through the body, multiplying rapidly, gaining strength and intelligence until it latches onto a cell. A life producing life and there it infects it, altering the cell, turning the cell into an enemy of the host, informing it the enemy is its very self and it must, at all costs, destroy it if it wants to survive. And like any living organism, its raison d’etre is to survive and multiply.
Many people holed up in this walled-in province fear this scenario. They want a permanent wall erected between us and our neighbor to the south. This neighbor is letting the virus run wild. They have the highest number of cases in the world. And highest deaths. We depend on them for trade. For food. We have to let the truck drivers in who transport those goods. It’s the tourist and visitor that is unwanted. They are suspected of carrying the virus and once they are in here their very unprotected breath will shoot the virus into the air where it will travel. And so most of the tourists are turned away at the border and must face the return journey to the hotbed of the disease. Sent back to the fire, so to speak.
And then there are some, like myself who feel great freedom. Freedom from fear.
I was reminded one idyllic sunny afternoon that those tourists to our south are trying to get in by sailing up the river. There are no border guards there. No men with reflector vests and clipboards.
I don’t go beyond the tree line here much. Not because I’m afraid but because it is so beautiful where I am. Flowers are in bloom. Vegetable plants bear their delicious fruit, the air is fresh and salty from the tidal river. Birds sing and forage and raise their young as if nothing has changed in the world. That’s how it feels here. It feels like before.
Apart from Nature, I’m alone here. Voluntary isolation.
I watch a watercolor grey sky skim the ground, moist cold air dampening my skin. A southeast wind pushes them from behind until blue pokes through. Hot and humid.
It’s an unusual spring and summer. Endless hot dry days have sliced deep cracks in the earth. Fruit is small and slow to mature. We’ve had a record heatwave. I feel it portents something equally deadly. Food scarcity. Massive migration. Starvation. And worse. The worst. A war over scarce resources.
I hope that is only a scenario of my overactive imagination — where my mind can go when left alone too long.
We are social beings. We need each other as gardens need rain. And sun. We need those opposites. The balance. The range in between extremes. The stories they bring with them. The diversity of these stories that link the near and far.
I scan the river for boats approaching.