Written 4 May, 2020
Last night we came back to the city for meds again at Darlinghurst post office, and with a big washing load, for the tanks are running low and when they’re empty, that’s it for our escape.
In Darlinghurst, our apartment is seven floors up. Masked and gloved- not many people on the streets are, to my astonishment- and shopping bag laden, I do the never-ending calculation – which will be more virus furred- lift or stairs? Who knows? The shopping is heavy- food- food-food!! I decide on the lift, but it’s important to say, before you start doubting my sanity- that it’s the little lift it’d only just fit you if you’re carrying, say an arm chair – and Mr Cranky walks out, his faded blue eyes amongst red wrinkles as always not seeing me, but he must see me, those eyes are always just at the right moment rolled into the distance. I don’t know why I care, except that he always leaves his New Yorkers out on the lobby bench for anyone to read, and it’s always me who reads them. I’m glad he doesn’t know – he’d probably stop putting them out. Anyway, I and my bulky bags get in, just fitting, the lift door’s sliding out the threatening world and suddenly a huge figure blocks its slow slide. Half a metre away is a figure in motor-bike black, shiny helmet hiding his face, his eyes must be in there somewhere, but he’s not properly human, he’s so monster-movie, a three-year old would scream.
I scream into this virus filled world, this massacring world: Get out!
You want me to get out? asks a charmingly accented, seductive male voice. A pillow- talk voice he keeps for women, and I could be of interest, for all he can see of me is blonde hair.
I’m so shocked at my three-year old self, what i’ve become in 45 days, that all I can do is yell again:
He takes a step back, the door takes the opportunity to slide between us, the lift ascends.
All day i’m shocked. I can’t do the city.
While i wait for GG to shower and shave, (luxuriously taking his time instead of the 1 minute showers of the river) I ring R in the middle of the US. I miss her dearly, for her pretty, compassionate face, the careful, honest way she weighs things up. She was the only one of my scientist friends who took me seriously, the only person in the world who did, when I was obsessed with the realisation that I was changing the neural pathways of my students. She discussed it with me over coffee and cake for five years, and eventually designed the elegant and successful experiment at NIDA about how teaching the neuroscience of creativity enhances the originality of students. She now runs a clinic for schizophrenics. She tells me that in her state, they’re doing well, the governor shut things down earlier than us, in late March, whereas we only shut down at Easter, and then not the whole country. So not many viral cases. But the peak is still to come, it’s thought, and when it does and the hospitals are overrun by coronavirus patients, she tells me she’ll be called in to work as an intern, alongside a resident doctor for six week stints, deciding whether patients need ICU. Her training as a medical doctor was a long thirty years ago.
I suppose it’ll all come back to me, she says.
How do you feel about it?
Terrified you’ll catch the virus?
Terrified I’ll hurt someone.
It mightn’t happen, is all I can say to comfort her. You’r state is doing well and might stay ahead of the curve.
It mightn’t happen.
That’s what we’re all saying, isn’t it- it mightn’t happen.