So how are you doing? I can't quite pin down how things feel; some days completely normal, others so suffused with strangeness that I can't breathe (and then I think: am I sick? is this what difficulty breathing feels like?). I find that I have very strong opinions, which I guess I usually do, but I mean even stronger. And then sometimes I have an opinion that barely even feels like anything, a thought that could be blown over by the least wind.
On March 8, the play I was organizing closed after three sold-out amazing performances. I was socially exhausted and made a note to myself that I needed to dial it back a bit. A group of friends was planning a trip to New York and I decided not to go, partly because I'd been in the US twice already in 2020, partly for financial reasons, partly because I needed some quiet time. On March 12, the Czech government announced that as of March 13 restaurants would be closed from 8 pm. I went out for a drink with some friends and it felt so strange I couldn't stay, though I wasn't sure at the time and am not sure in retrospect whether it felt like we were being risky or whether it was part of my needing to be away from people.
On the 14th and 15th, we held auditions for the next play in my apartment because the club we normally have them in was closed. I wiped everything down with disinfectant before and after each audition. We were mostly quiet; somber I guess. I still can't say whether it was my existing social exhaustion or whether I felt it then, what was coming. I remember one man going through the cabinets in the kitchen looking for tea, and I felt like screaming stop touching my things, and that was either when I started being afraid or realized I was already afraid. On the 16th, everything except food stores closed down, gatherings of more than 2 people were forbidden, masks were required, boom. Nobody on the street but dog walkers. Little sound other than birds and ambulances.
Between March 12 and April 17 I think I left the house once. One person came over. I sat on the balcony sometimes, watching people in masks go to or from the grocery store or walk their dogs, women with a widening gray stripe in the center of their hair, men really expressing themselves with their mask choices. I thought for a while that everyone looked worried, but then I decided to think they looked neutral and they looked that way. Now I imagine them happy. When your face is hidden it's really hard to tell.
I filled out a map form to mark where I usually go and where I go now, and my apartment and most of the places I go are in the same square so nothing's changed. I was already working from home so nothing's changed. I used to see people on video calls that I couldn't see in person so nothing's changed. I helped translate some political stuff for free and I donated money to local causes so nothing's changed.
I've watched a lot of television and I love television so that makes me happy. I wanted to start exercising when the play finished and I've started exercising and I don't love it but I do it every day anyway. I wanted to take a break from alcohol and I mostly have though since I haven't been in situations where I wanted it that doesn't seem so impressive. I did standup and an open mic night online and both of those were pleasant experiences, though they were also the only time I felt that I missed people in general.
The shutdown was thorough and people were pretty compliant. In the last week so few people have died here. They're reopening businesses here, letting groups hang out again, removing a lot of restrictions. Masks still required in public. I honestly feel like they're trying to increase the infection rate a little so they can shut things down again. Like all governments I see a T-Rex, incompetence in the comically tiny arms and ravenous cruelty in the teeth. Even if this one is more benevolent than the one I come from, it's ultimately self-serving and whenever I feel like I don't know what it's doing, I believe it's doing something to feed itself.
I don't know, I feel okay. I just wanted to write this down, so I wouldn't forget how it felt. Sometimes it felt like a lot. Sometimes it didn't feel like anything. Maybe what is unusual isn't how it feels, but that I've had so much time to think about how it feels? I guess that's a good thing, generally.