08 May Birtinya in quarantine
Quarantine is a really weird time, made even weirder by living on the already very laidback Sunshine Coast. In the heart of little Birtinya, quarantine feels a lot like living in a dystopian universe from a Pixar movie. The perfectly manicured grass is somehow neat although no one seems to mow it, the cars on the street are only there when they should be, and not one is older than a 2018 model. The people on the street are usually on their way to and from work in tidy blue scrubs or exercising in coordinated activewear.
From my room, I hear the gentle hum of the world outside. I sit, watching the day go by through the screen of my bedroom window. I overlook the street leading to a little park, and so, I get to people-watch as my neighbours head out for exercise or their cars leave to go shopping. I wonder how many days it’s been since we’ve gone outside for no reason.
I’m a naturally introverted homebody so my own company is something I’m quite happy to tolerate. But there is a new frustration about being told I can’t do anything except hang out by myself or hang out inside.
Every day feels a little random. It is tinged with a sleepy Sunday type of laziness, although I am perpetually stressed about what to study and when my exams are and if I should be more proactive during the few hours I’m allowed at the hospital. I wake up confused as to whether all of this is a fever dream my brain has created after a big night or if I’ve found myself in one of those ‘freaky Friday’ type movies.
Today I have some online teaching. I let it play in the background as I make a cup of tea in the kitchen. I’m not sure who the presenter is or what she looks like, her video is off. She looks through the list of attendees to ask a question to someone. Coincidentally, she picks me just as I am adding milk to my tea. I have no idea what the question is and I’m anxious to talk on the microphone, so I say nothing. She blames it on a poor internet connection or maybe thinks to herself that the med students are dumb- I reassure myself that since she doesn’t know me, it’s okay.
Coming back to my room, I see the postie go past on his scooter wearing his neon vest. I remember that I have a Cotton On order on the way and spend 15 minutes trying to catch up on whatever this teaching is about before heading out to check the mail. I have my pyjama pants tucked into bed socks, so I carefully patter down the driveway on my tippy toes. Maybe in a different time I would care if someone saw me, but the neighbour across the road is probably doing the same thing, plus, these socks are cute. There is no Cotton On package.
I’m writing this from my bed with the blinds drawn and fairy lights on at about 4pm and I have realised two things. I’ve realised that although quarantine has tipped routine on its head some days, it has created a blissful boredom to enjoy outside of routine. It’s also made the details of life scream louder. Sitting in the same space every day, I am noticing the things that seemed mundane before. I am noticing the way the light hits the trees and the butterflies that flirt with the blades of grass outside my window. In all these small things, I am reminded that there is still a lot to love about our little dystopian Birtinya in quarantine.