May 23, 2020
Time takes on a surreal quality. We have names for the people who sit in buildings across from us. Their windows give us lives we become curious about in our own isolation. There’s a topless girl to folds her laundry every Sunday, and the gamer who never moves from the couch, except once when we saw him walk across the living room and sit again. On a warm day, the hammock girl comes out to hang in the canvas she’s strung between plants on a balcony that’s only otherwise empty. The DJ sits at a desk in front of his window, wearing big headphones and head bent, rocking, so it looks like he is spinning records for music we cannot hear, and the TV man loiters in front of a camera on the patio and babbles like a television host, recording snippets we wonder what for. “I wonder what names they have for us,” Pedro says, no one looking back.
The photographer is the only one who seems to notice us. He comes out with a tripod to a balcony nearby and smokes cigarettes and waves, and we hold up our wine glasses in the evening and wave them back, a toast. And then there are our friends, who are in a building on the corner, past the church, and even though we cannot see them, we can see them turn out their lights at night, so we text them, “good night.” We’ve been watching spring begin, the trees going from flowers and branches to full green, as we talk about the next meal, or the next time we will venture out, the quiet street below open to our conversation, and we wave to the helicopter that passes overhead.
“Two months? What is that?” asks a co-worker when I say we’ve been inside for that long. Time takes on a surreal quality. “Is it Wednesday,” I ask Pedro on Tuesday, so foggy and unsure where we are in weeks that bleed one into the next, taking time by the weather—yesterday it rained, last week, too, the heavy downpour giving us something to wake up to. I do yoga sporadically. We’ve finished three puzzles, first a New Yorker cover, then an equestrian fair, and the third a Paris-scape my sister sent us from Maine. We have a fourth one—national geographic, a boy and his grandfather sitting in an old attic surrounded by books—that one is sitting in the pile of puzzle boxes. “Should we start a puzzle today,” I ask this morning. We grocery shop, wearing masks, watch a movie instead. “Let’s do the dishes tomorrow.” Have you ordered cat litter? Smudge sleeps in a pile of blankets with us. I buy a typewriter. “Should we start a quarantine journal?” Pedro asks. I stop reading headlines, watch comedians riff online instead. Tonight, the star is out over the church steeple. “Is it a planet,” I ask. We forget to look it up, peaceful in not knowing what the galaxy holds but knowing it’s there. We got back inside, fall back into sleep.
The girl who does her laundry on Sundays closes her shades.