The COVID Diaries: Discombobulated

Word of the day: discombobulated.

I love this word. It sounds as confusing as it is meant to sound, which sounds confusing. Even just reading the word makes my brain think, “huh?” Today I went for what seems to be my new normal afternoon walk around Vancouver. I’m working from home now, but today was my day off and when I woke up I wasn’t even really sure what day it was, or what I was meant to be doing. I walked around the house in a daze while Zeke worked away at our shared desk. I remembered that I had signed up for a webinar, and watched from my bed as 3,000 other museum professionals joined in for a session on how we’re all dealing with the pandemic and how to engage with our audiences and deal with our museums all being closed. I only thought to make coffee at around noon. I checked Facebook and the news. I texted with my colleague about feeling, you guessed it—discombobulated.

On my walk I called my parents and we chatted and connected. During that time I also made plans to chat with a friend in Montreal and later today, a friend in Boston. I feel this need to connect, to see my family and friend’s faces and to hear their voices. I want to talk about what’s going on right now, and I also don’t. I want to have them all with me in a room, but also don’t, because, you know—social isolation.

Global pandemic. It sounds like a board game, well, because it is. It really should have remained in game form—much more fun than this. Today Zeke and I both had this very strong feeling that this is the lull before the storm, that something even bigger is hitting soon. And it already has hit Italy, and China and so many other places worse than Vancouver, but it feels like the worst is yet to come. As I writer I make sense of the world by reading and writing, and so here I am, discombobulated but writing to make sense of all this. To connect. To reach out.

I went to the grocery store on my walk, because it feels like I should be stocking up every time we go out and because we needed dates. I wandered around the store picking up random things. I didn’t follow our list, I just grabbed. Oh look, our favourite cheese that we haven’t bought in a while, hint of lime chips, fancy coffee—I have six things of coffee in my freezer now because I am apparently terrified to run out of coffee, two extra avocados just because and potatoes, because potatoes seem like a sensible thing to buy during a pandemic. At the check out the clerk promptly sat down on the counter after she rung me through and she looked at me and sighed, “I’m just so tired,” she said, “I’ve been here since seven in the morning.” She didn’t look just tired though, she looked, wait for it—discombobulated. I sympathized, I put my headphones in and blasted music all the way home.

As soon as I got home I collapsed on the couch. Zeke had finally finished his work and was able to focus on me for the first time today. He sat with me as I stared out the window and slid his fingers through mine and squeezed.

“Good thing we like spending so much time together,” I laughed.


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