Day 2: Invisible

Is it in me? Is it all around me? Or do I exist in a cocoon of safety? Where is this virus and how do I even know if it’s showing its face?

As I wrote yesterday, I’ve been living the Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa life since Friday, neither fully upright nor totally knocked down by illness. Well, I did spend part of Sunday on the floor of my bedroom, to tired to pull myself onto the bed. But thankfully, that extreme exhaustion has passed. So has the cough that felt like it was dragging me along towards a feverish sea (if that makes no sense, just wait until the cough hits you, and I think you’ll see what I mean).

On Monday, thanks to having a physician husband, I got tested for the novel coronavirus. But test results are taking a week or longer. By the time I get mine back, hopefully, I will be recovered, or close to it. In the meantime, I long for things that are out of reach. A hug. A kiss. Even a hand on a shoulder. I live with four people — a husband, two college-age sons, and a 16-year-old daughter — and no one can come within six feet of me. Really, they should be leaving me locked up in my room, and bringing things to my door. But without major outward signs of illness, we are not that kind of organized.

I see my friends on Facebook posting about how they wipe down packages and toss out wrappings and wash and wash and wash their hands. They’re doing that because their home is the safe space. We don’t know what our home is anymore. It may be slick with germs. It may be an oasis.

I wish this stealth intruder would show his craggy, cowardly face.

Meanwhile, my husband sleeps in our younger son’s room. He rides his bike first thing in the morning. In a few minutes, he’ll leave for work at the clinic, where he’s an internist. Most of his visits these days are over the phone. But patients are still rolling in and out of the building, the droplets of their coughs and sneezes wafting through the vents, lingering in the communal air.

A tube of off-brand alcohol wipes stands next to me on the desk as I type. There’s a spray bottle of Lysol in the kitchen, another in the bathroom. I wear a mask anytime I enter shared space. My hands have never been cleaner.

But I don’t know anymore what I’m trying to banish, and who I’m protecting.