Living in a Bubble [Mental Health]
Depending on where you live in the world, COVID may or may not be a pressing issue. What I mean is that some areas are handling the virus with common sense. The majority of the population in these places has been vaccinated, people are wearing masks in public, adhering to social distancing, and the numbers of infected remain low.
Then there’s here, where I live. Things are frightening. Two days ago I read that one of our two local hospitals has started bringing in refrigerated trucks to hold the deceased because the morgue is full. And they’ve also canceled all non-emergency procedures. And they’re running out of beds and staff, who are quitting due to the overwhelming number of cases.
Because of this, I’ve been living in a bubble. I’ve been vaccinated, but I know that I can still carry and transmit the virus. I don’t want to have to live with the guilt of knowing I got someone else sick, especially if it kills them. Plus, I know that I can still get sick from COVID. Not as badly as the unvaccinated, but I don’t want to go through that, even a mild case.
Living in this bubble has been interesting. Luckily, I work from home, so I don’t have much reason to leave the house, except for grocery shopping and taking my mutts to the vet every so often. I’m comfortable with that. I have stacks of books to read, stories to write, games to play. I don’t have to worry about getting dressed up, I only wear shoes maybe once a week, and I get to spend a lot of time playing with my dogs.
Of course, this also means a lack of human interaction. I have Zoom video meetings a few times a day with coworkers, which is okay, but it’s not quite the same as a face-to-face discussion. And I have five minutes to talk to the cashier at the grocery store. And, well, that’s about it.
Now, keep in mind that I’m not what you’d consider a social butterfly. I enjoy small get-togethers, good conversation, adult beverages, but I’m not one to necessarily seek it out.
After a year and a half of distancing, it’s interesting to note that I miss those small gatherings. It’s the conversation, mostly, hearing about other people’s interesting adventures and excursions. Hearing them describe things, conversations they’ve had, things they’ve overheard. Basically, hearing other people tell their stories.
There’s something about the oral tradition of storytelling. At parties, dinners, backyard cookouts, people relay their personal short stories, their creative non-fictions. Humans have been doing this for millennia. The main difference being that now we stand around a gas grill rather than squat around a campfire.
Living in a bubble removes my exposure to that continuing tradition. It’s unfortunate, but necessary at the moment. Luckily, I still have my partner sharing her stories with me, coworkers who involve me in side conversations on a video call once a meeting ends, and there are podcasts. So many podcasts.
That all helps to fill the void. But yet, I look forward to when things get back to some semblance of normalcy. I’ll enjoy hearing voices first-hand, picking up on the nuances of body language, sharing laughs and gasps, immersing myself in those interesting stories.