My recovery has slowed my adjustment to our new and strange strange strange world. So much changed while I was swimming in the deep, in the world of fevers and pain and IVs and needles and poisonous and sickening yet helpful drugs and severe isolation. I get a little healthier each day, and take a bit more information in, and now… right now every corner of the world is full of strangeness. I’ve lost my job, except not totally. What does this mean? People bring me groceries, because venturing out can leave me breathless. But that’s weird. Venturing out… I do. I have to.
I have a new apartment. I’m supposed to move in. How? Feeling so awful? And do people still do that? Move into new apartments? Fall in love? Get married? Have babies? Write books and plays? Do people still do that? Do people somewhere still touch each other? I have not been touched in affection since March 9. Later that week, the touching I received was institutional, hospital touch, which is very weird: thermometers being pushed into my mouth; blood pressure cuffs squeezing my arm and… every damn day at 5:20 am… sharp needles stabbing my skin for the daily blood draw. At 5:20. In the morning.
That is not to say I am not deeply, profoundly grateful for those nurses and technicians who held the thermometers and even the needles. They were all kind. It’s just disconcerting to lie in a hospital bed, with no loved one nearby to tuck my hair behind my ear or hold my hand. Institutional touch, all on its own, is unspeakably lonely. It is dehumanizing.
So many people seem to want to get back to “normal”. With all this oddness, I’m not sure we have any idea what that means. Strangeness is just a tiny shift away from “normal”. Strangeness is so close, just a tiny virus away from “normal”. And “normal” is really not normal at all, it’s… habitual. Repetitive. Reality is just experience on automatic. And we humans, evolved from creatures for whom the unexpected could be fatal, really prefer the known, the repetitive, the habitual, even if that reality is an illusion.
Which is perhaps the strangest thing of all.
Image by Nhia Moua.