Isolation, Day 32

Yesterday we passed the one month mark since we self-isolated in our Arlington, VA apartment to try and hide from the coronavirus. During that time, I have taken two walks for fresh air, sat outside my building once for 15 minutes, walked one time to the post office wearing a mask, and drove two miles to DC for blood tests at my rheumatologist’s practice – where I was the only patient.

For me, it hasn’t been enough; today on the third day of severe sciatica pain and back spasms, it became clear to me that I need to get more exercise, immediately. Being sequestered for weeks in a tiny apartment like an astronaut on a spaceship is not a normal condition for a human being. But on the other hand, maintaining social distance from other people in such an urban hot spot has to take precedence for V and I, who are both at higher risk to catch the coronavirus. My immune-compromised status has sufficiently scared us to just stay in the apartment, but the consequences of that for weeks or months on end are also undesirable. And so last night I was very pleased to discover on my 90-minute test walk (that I began just after 10 p.m.) that while others can have the sunny spring days, the nights are all mine.

When I walked earlier this month during the daytime, I had to avoid other people like obstacles in a video game. It made me want to stay in and not risk it. But last night I was surprised by the extent to which the busy streets of the Clarendon and Courthouse neighborhoods now quiet down after sunset. Everything is closed and still, and lights shining in apartment buildings hint that home is the only place to be.
April 6 in our neighborhood (Day 21 of social distancing)

Last night I walked with a mask for over 9,000 steps and never came within 25 yards of another human being. Places that are usually crawling with people were utterly deserted.

First time seeing Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington without a soul in sight

Cars were also few and far between, even on Highway 50. In 90 minutes, I saw two dog walkers, one jogger, four other people strolling (not together), and one person waiting at a bus stop. And that was IT. Busses circulated the city empty. A couple of cabs rolled slowly by, hunting for work. Cops idling in patrol cars were omnipresent.

I wore my Washington Caps sweatshirt and a mask to send a message to any opportunists looking for trouble: I’m local. And also, leave me alone. But I needn’t have worried. My masked image reflected back at me via the windows of empty storefronts was startling. I looked like the menace. I coughed once and someone crossed the street half a block away to give me space.

Spring’s beauty still visible at night

The night was cool, in the 40s. It felt good. With my keychain and attached bottle of hand sanitizer in one hand and my iPhone in the other, I felt like the empty city was just for me. I listened to tunes. I found things I had never noticed before – small green spaces and a hidden flight of stairs by the courthouse that I could use to get in my 10 flights per day. I made sure I didn’t so much as brush up against a bench or railing. It was the first time I have felt safe and free outside for weeks, even though the Life After People factor was mildly creepy.

Cafes and restaurants closed down at Courthouse Plaza

Since my last post, we have learned that the Department will postpone outbound permanent change of station (PCS) moves through May 31 at a minimum. It is not safe at this time to have movers in our apartment to pack us out. It is not safe for us to drive across eight states under stay-at-home orders and to try to find food and shelter en route. And it isn’t safe for us to arrive in Ciudad Juárez, which currently has 82 cases of coronavirus and has seen 20 deaths. So our plan to start driving on April 25 didn’t work, and our backup plan to start driving on May 13 isn’t going to work now, either.

So instead we will keep teleworking and trying to accept the limitations and ambiguity that have completely changed the rhythms of our lives, perhaps for months. I have been trained to shelter in place for long periods, and I can do it. I will do it, for as long as necessary, with no panic, resentment, or anxiety. I tend to only lose my shit over the small stuff; in emergencies, I have so far always been calm.

I’m going to keep hiding from the virus, staying away from people, being vigilant in using Lysol wipes on my shoes, doorknob, keys, headphones, etc. when I enter the apartment, even when I just go downstairs to get the mail, or down the hall to dump the trash. But I’m not going to hide from my life, or let myself fall apart physically. I have to find a way to get what I need in this new reality while keeping physically safe and mentally resilient.

And so after dark from now on, I will emerge, to put a point up on the wall in my chronic fight against pain and inflammation. To enjoy the fresh air and the city lights safely, all by myself.

Someday, when things are different, maybe when we have a vaccine, we will let our hair down and toast the town face to face. This isn’t what any of us wanted when we ushered in the new decade less than four months ago. But it’s what we’ve got. Stay safe out there.

It’s not going anywhere

  4 comments for “Isolation, Day 32

  1. April 17, 2020 at 13:01

    “I only lose my shit over the small stuff” that’s exactly how I feel haha!! I’ve been super calm and even happy during all of this virus stuff, but give me something minor and I’ll panic

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Sarah W Gaer

Author, Speaker, Thought Leader

The Dark Passport

A record of worldwide travel

Train to TBD

American expat life in Switzerland

Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

What's Up With Tianna?

A Millennial's Musings of the World.

Life in a State of Wanderlust

"Not all those who wander are lost..." --J.R.R. Tolkien


Traveling Fashion Designers 🌼

Adventures With Aia:

A senior project travel blog

hello stranger

stories on adventure, and travel, and real life


Stories from a mid-west girl in Macedonia

Nina Boe in the Balkans

This blog does not represent the US government, Peace Corps, or people of North Macedonia.


Live well & Enjoy.

Den's Blog

This is what life is like when you don't do things the easy way.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Audrey is (a)Broad

A Humorous and Factual Repository.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

try imagining a place

some stories from a life in the foreign service

Teach Travel Budget

Personal Finance for English Teachers Abroad

The Next Dinner Party

So raise your glass

Bag Full of Rocks

My rocks are the memories from different adventures. I thought I would just leave this bag here.

Carpe Diem Creative

A soulful explorer living an inspired life


Time for adventure

Trailing Spouse Tales

My Life As An Expat Abroad


My thoughts.

Wright Outta Nowhere

Tales from a Serial Expat

from the back of beyond

Detroit --> Angola --> Chile --> Cambodia--> India

anchored . . . for the moment

the doings of the familia Calderón

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

A little drama every day. ~Dramababyabroad


Wanderings & Wonderings

The Multicultural Marketer

Inclusion Isn't Optional


two humans, one cat, and our lives together in West Africa

travelin' the globe

my travels, my way. currently exploring eswatini and the rest of southern africa as a peace corps volunteer

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

a rambling collective

Short Fiction by Nicola Humphreys

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves


Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, weight loss, family, relationships, travel & love!

Let's Go Somewhere

A life well-lived around the world.

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley

%d bloggers like this: