My War Room.
So this sucks, doesn't it? As I sit in my living room (nicknamed my "war room"), the sunlight streams in, shedding little light on what has been a relatively opaque subject, the coronavirus pandemic.
The last three weeks has seen me move through various stages of grief and acceptance. The first week was mostly panic, intense anxiety, working out in my little in-house gym (basically an empty bedroom), smoking hemp CBD cigarettes (no tobacco) at night on the back porch, trying to work out my future prospects for paychecks and personal safety. I live in Connecticut, and my state is getting hammered by this thing. Since yesterday there are 1,200 new cases of coronavirus, and over 200 dead. I'm fairly certain that if I were to catch it, I'd become a statistic. It feels as though the air itself is trying to kill everyone. No amount of internet-streamed movies or reassurances from placating parents and family members can neutralize the fact that the Spanish Flu of 1918 is about to replay itself 100 years later in my backyard.
Week two was a series of "get a grip" days, which entailed me pretending to have a new routine. I'm lucky in that I work in a school district, and the governor has mandated that all districts maintain payroll during this crisis, so I'll continue to be paid for essentially doing a bare minimum of work. I can't complain. There are over two-hundred thousand unemployment claims in the state since the end of March. I'm extra lucky to not be joining the ranks of the jobless. But somehow that doesn't take the sting out of things. There's still an overarching sense of uncertainty, of bleak prospects in the future should this crisis continue indefinitely. Connecticut residents tend to think they're invincible, so we may be on the slow boat to peak infection rates, and might not see the beginning of the end until late May or early June, if we're lucky.
Meanwhile I'm in quarantine, with my only two environments being my house (chiefly chilling in my "war room"), and my parents' house fifteen minutes south. They're also in quarantine, so the three of us only see each other. I haven't seen another soul since the middle of March, other than a brief excursion to a pharmacy, and I don't even intend on repeating that. All of my prescriptions, groceries, anything I need will be delivered from now on. When I drive around I see people everywhere. People on the streets. People walking their dogs. People in small groups. I wonder if they're ok. I wonder if I'm ok. If this drags through the rest of the calendar year, it will be a generation-defining situation, akin to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
Week three saw the beginning of acceptance. I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere in the faceless days of isolation I began to expect the same for weeks to come, and felt less alarmed and more resigned to it all. When I turn on the news or the talking heads, it's as if I live in a dystopian future novel by George Orwell or Harry Harrison. I switched on Jimmy Dore's livestream Saturday morning at around a quarter to one, and Jimmy and his wife were basically blowing bubbles into their microphones, high as fuck, their every word addressing illness, death, or unemployment. When I switch over to Joe Rogan or Scott Adams it's pretty much a variation of the same deal. Nobody knows what will happen a month from now, but everyone is damn sure of what's happening this minute, and none of it sounds good.
As I slide into the fourth week of quarantine I find myself wondering what will happen to me. Will I survive this? Will my family survive it? My brother still goes to the office twice a week. He and his partner are a little less alarmist about it, and make occasional non-essential trips to places like grocery stores and Home Depot. Will New York City hold up? Will Connecticut maintain? My best friend is immunocompromised beyond anyone's wildest imagination, so if he gets it his goose is cooked. How will he fare in the coming days? All of this uncertainty has me playing chess with myself. I have enough content to publish on my blog for the rest of the year, but what will the fragrance world look like in nine months? How many brands will go under? Who will do ok? Something tells me the fragrance industry will be fine.
To all of my readers, wherever you may be: take caution, and be well. I want all of you to have a happy story to tell by the end of this fiasco, and I want to be there to hear it. This pandemic may be blip on our radar, or it may be like WW3, with the possibility of a second Great Depression looming if industries continue to struggle and perish. But whatever happens to us, I hope we are together for it. Strength in numbers, even if those numbers must be counted alone.